Coach's Corner

Meet Our Coaches

 

To become a UFA coach, please contact our Branch Director at Stephanie@unitedfa.org.

  • Stephanie Buquoi
    Branch/Recreational Director

    Stephanie Buquoi

     

    Coach Steph is in her fourth season as the UFA Mountains Future Academy Coach.  She was with UFA Forsyth and Mountains for six seasons prior, coaching her daughter’s recreational team.  Her son is currently a Mountains Academy Player and has been a part of UFA for seven years.  In Florida, she coached girls academy and athena teams ranging from U10-U18.  Coach Steph also led a girls middle school soccer team in Texas.  

    Coach Steph grew up in Marietta and has played soccer since the age of five.  At the age of 10, she joined the Atlanta Hot Shots, her athena team, which she played competitively until graduating high school.   Her team won many tournaments in a variety of states, and in 2000 became Georgia state champs and went on to regionals in Texas.  She was a four year varsity letterman winner from Walton High School.  She was captain and Most Valuable Defender for the Raiders.  Coach Steph participated in the Olympic Development Program for the state of Georgia in 1999-2000 and was captain of her soccer team during the Maccabi Games at the age of 15.  

    In 2000, Coach Steph went on to play for the Georgia Southern Eagles.  There she was a defender and made lifelong friends with her teammates.  She transferred to Rollins College in 2002, where she was captain of the Tars, named to the All-Conference Second Team, and was the Most Valuable Defender for the Tars.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and began her teaching career in Orlando.  

    Coach Steph currently teaches elementary school in Forsyth County.  She has an awesome husband Shelby, her soccer loving son Carter, and her horse-back riding daughter, Burkleigh.  Aside from her passion for soccer, Steph loves to run, play tennis, rollerblade, and enjoys spending time outside.  

     
  • Joe Paul
    Recreational Coordinator
    USSF F license

    Joe Paul grew up all over the southeast before his family settled in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He began coaching his daughters’ soccer teams with UFA Mountains in Dahlonega in 2022. Joe became a UFA Location Coordinator for Lumpkin County in Fall of 2023. 

    Joe is a career educator and high school tennis coach in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where he previously served as a teacher, and is now an Instructional Technology and Innovation Coach. He holds degrees from the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, and the University of West Georgia. 

    Joe lives in Dahlonega with his wife, Mallory, and three daughters: Amelia, Violet, and Lily. He enjoys cooking and fishing in his free time, as well as watching UGA football and European soccer. He currently holds a Grassroots Coaching License with US Soccer, and plans to build upon this in the future.

  • Patrice Parris
    Staff Coach
    United Soccer Coaches Premier License

    Patrice Parris has been with UFA for 10 years. Parris was the Head Coach of the men's soccer program at the University of North Georgia for 16 years. Parris came to the University of North Georgia from Georgia Southern University, where he was a four-year letter winner for the Eagles from 1994-97, joining the Statesboro (Ga.) High coaching staff after concluding his career at Georgia Southern. In 1999, Parris was called up to train with the Jamaican (Reggae Boys) National Team. 

    Parris spent three years at Statesboro, helping the Blue Devils win back-to-back region championships. After that, he joined the Georgia Southern coaching staff for seven years, where he served in that capacity until accepting the University of North Georgia's Head Coaching position. 

    During his collegiate career, Parris played in 75 games at forward, marking back, and outside-midfield. Parris's high school days were spent at Bradwell Institute (Hinesville, Ga.), where he was a four-year letter winner. In 1993 he was named the team's Best Offensive Player, only to better that his senior season when he was voted the Coastal Empire Most Valuable Player and Bradwell's Best Offensive Player.

    Parris graduated from Georgia Southern in 1999 with a Bachelor's degree in sport management and received his Master's in sports management from Georgia Southern.  Patrice Parris recently graduated from Valdosta State University with a Doctorate in Higher Education-Leadership. Parris holdsa United Soccer Coaches Premier License.

    Throughout his 16 years at the helm of the men's soccer program, Parris led North Georgia to new heights, having achieved a national top 25 ranking for the first time in program history.

    Parris has led North Georgia to season marks at or above .500 six times and earned nine consecutive Peach Belt Conference Tournament appearances.
     
    In 2017, the Nighthawks went more profound than ever in the PBC Tournament, reaching the championship game and sending it deep into penalty kicks against one of the nation's top 25 teams. In 2016, the Nighthawks finished as runners-up in the Peach Belt Conference regular season standings, the program's highest finish ever. 
  • Mike Povenz
    Staff Coach

    Mike Povenz is in his 10th year of coaching with UFA. He started coaching rec soccer out of Matt Park in Forsyth County and is now coaching at the Academy at Rock Creek Park in Dawsonville. In the Fall 2020 season, he built a U12 girls Academy team that placed first in their first end-of-season tournament. His teams went to SCCL Champions League and have now been promoted to SAPL.

    Mike grew up in Cobb county, playing at the select level for many years. He was selected, at age fourteen, to play on a travel team headed to Europe in the summer of 1993. His experiences in Denmark and Sweden accelerated his gameplay and soccer education. He played Varsity soccer at Lassiter High School and made the leader board for goals and assists. In 1994 he was part of a hand-picked developmental team coached by the USISL Pro League Atlanta Magic team. Upon completing high school, Mike was accepted as a midfielder for Georgia Southern University a D1 program. His Junior year, as a starting midfielder, his team went on to win the Southern Conference.

    Mike is married to Brandy Povenz. They have 3 children, 3 dogs, 4 chickens, 2 Guinea pigs, and 1 psychotic fish. He loves the outdoors, cooking in cast iron, Atlanta United, and to travel.

    Mike is currently pursuing his D License.

  • Sarah Black
    Staff Coach
    USSF D License

    Sarah Black is a native of North Georgia and lives in Cleveland, Ga with her husband and 2 daughters. 

    She started playing soccer at the age of 4 throughout the North Georgia area competing in recreation, academy, and futsal thru college. 

    Sarah began coaching in the fall of 2020 as a recreational coach in White County where she found new passion in passing down enjoyment and developmental skills to youth. Her philosophy has emphasis on individual and team development in skills on and off field. 

    She began coaching education pursue higher level coaching and received USSF Level D in 2024. She plans to continue her coaching education to continue developing as a coach.

  • Sean Clifford
    Staff Coach
    USSF D License

    Sean Clifford has been with UFA since 2012. He spent his first six years coaching various Rec age groups, running Summer camps, and working as the Location Coordinator at Rock Creek Park for two seasons. He has been coaching at the Academy/Select level since 2019.

    Clifford was born in Burlington, VT, and his love of soccer was passed down from his father, who grew up in Germany. An active child, he also enjoyed hockey, baseball, lacrosse, and skiing. He left Vermont to attend boarding school at the Holderness School in New Hampshire, where he lettered in four sports, and in his senior year earned All-Lakes Region first team honors for soccer and lacrosse. Clifford received his BA in English from Union College (NY), where he continued to play soccer and lacrosse. He played three years at defense and striker for the Dutchmen, starting as a freshman, but his focus shifted to lacrosse his senior year, as he earned the team MVP award and All-Liberty League team honors. He stayed on with his soccer team his senior year as the strength and conditioning coach.

    Clifford’s goals as a coach are to compete at the highest level possible while still maintaining the values of sportsmanship, hustle, and togetherness. He believes in a strong work ethic, high level of fitness, preparation, and the ability to compete with class. Win, lose, or draw, Coach Clifford is committed to getting the most out of his players, and giving the most to his players.

    Sean came to Georgia in 2005, where he met and married his ultimate teammate, Brandy Clifford. They have three children: Madeline, Caden, and Colton.

  • Kalib Denton
    Staff Coach
  • Cole Dorsey
    Staff Coach
  • Ryan French
    Staff Coach
    D License (June 2024)

    Ryan French brings over a decade of coaching experience to the soccer field. His coaching journey commenced when his daughter took her first steps onto the field at the age of 6. With a lifelong passion for the sport, Ryan's involvement began at the age of five, competing competitively until the age of 22, instilling in him a deep-rooted connection to soccer.
     

    Currently holding a Grassroots License and actively pursuing his National D License, Ryan remains dedicated to advancing his coaching education.

    Throughout his coaching tenure, Ryan has had the privilege of mentoring players across a diverse range of age groups, spanning from U5 to U17.

     

    For Ryan, success is not defined by victories on the scoreboard but by the tangible growth and development of each player and the team as a wholeHis coaching philosophy revolves around cultivating a positive and supportive environment where players feel empowered to express themselves freely, unencumbered by the fear of failure.He firmly believes in the importance of embracing mistakes as an integral part of the learning process and emphasizes their role in player development. His ultimate goal is to cultivate an environment where every player can unlock their full potential within a nurturing and supportive framework.


    At the core of Ryan's coaching principles are the values of sportsmanship, commitment, and hard work.  As an advocate for holistic player development, he emphasizes technical proficiency and offers individual and group training sessions to players seeking to refine their skills.

     

    Beyond coaching, Ryan has dedicated over five years to serving as a trainer and an Age Group Coordinator for UFA, further solidifying his commitment to the soccer community.

     

  • Scott Gordon
    Staff Coach
    Scott Gordon has been coaching with UFA since 2012.  He started coaching rec soccer out of Central Park and then Matt Park. In 2021 he moved to Rock Creek to coach a U17 Boys SCCL team.  The team competed in P3.  The team moved to U19 in 2022 and was promoted to P2 and finished the season undefeated and was promoted to P1 for the 2023 season.  Scott also was an assistant coach for a U19 Girls SCCL team from Rock Creek in 2023.  HIs teams have been very successful competing in tournaments during rec and Select seasons and he has always had the philosophy to travel to an away tournament each year to build team camaraderie. 
     
    Scott has been a soccer parent for 14 years and enjoys being a part of the game he played for over 15 years as a goalkeeper.  He enjoys watching youth grow on and off the field from the teachings during practice.  His philosophy in teaching the game is to make it fun and to bring the team together as one to allow for the best performance during competition.  Scott has also been a referee since 2019, having worked over 400 games from Adult, ECNL and NPL games to all levels of Academy/Select and Rec.
  • Corey Gutherie
    Staff Coach
    Coach Corey Gutherie brings 13 years of playing and 10 years of coaching experience to UFA.  Growing up in Dacula, GA, soccer was not yet introduced to the area.  Instead, the Lawrenceville YMCA offered a rec, premier and classic program and coach Corey traveled a short ways to pursue his passion playing soccer through High School.  In Corey's junior year in High School, Dacula initiated their soccer program and Corey was able to start all games as a junior and senior.  Corey moved to beautiful Dawson County as a County engineer and then started his own Civil Engineering Firm.  Even still soccer was his passion and Corey jumped at the opportunity to coach his son Sam at UFA Mountains starting in 2014.  For 10 years, Corey has coached 20+ soccer teams and is currently coaching U16 Select.  With a passion and joy for the sport, Corey has helped grow the soccer program in Dawson County.
     
    Corey continues to run his Civil Engineering Firm and trains and mentors those in his community.  As an active Rotarian and former board member of other non-profit organizations, Corey takes pride in his community and works hard to help others.  
  • Jeff Jager
    Staff Coach
    USSF National D License
    USSF National D License and a United Soccer National Diploma
     
    Coach Jeff started playing soccer at an early age and continued through college when he received a scholarship to play at Augusta University, which was a Division II Soccer Program at the time.  During his Junior Year, he helped lead his team to a national ranking of #7.  While in college, Coach Jeff, started his coaching experience at August Arsenal.  Aside from some Adult League stints, Coach Jeff hung up his boots and focused on coaching after his College playing days.  Coach Jeff has a wealth of coaching experience at the club and high school levels.  Including over 6 years of coaching select with boys and girls teams.  His High School experience includes over 10 years of coaching boys and girls at the JV and Varsity level.  Coach Jeff has coached many players that have moved onto playing college soccer with many at the Division II and Division I level.  Coach Jeff believes in challenging his players at every practice and game both physically and mentally; while making the training sessions fun.  Personally, Coach Jeff is married to Mary Beth and has 3 daughters Ellie, Reese, and Olivia.  Two of which excel at soccer and the other is an All Star Cheerleader. 
  • J Andrew Jenkins
    Staff Coach
    Grassroots 11v11 & 9v9

    At age 6 my family moved from Georgia to Regensburg Germany, where I grew up. I started playing at age 7 for a local club FSV Pruefening. 

    At age 12 I was recruited and joined the youth program for German 3rd Liga team SSV Jahn Regensburg. 

    During my youth career I played for SSV Jahn Regensburg in the German 3.Liga as well as for the Oberpfalz (county) and Bayern (state) all-star teams. At age 18 I moved back to the US and played D1 college soccer for Charleston Southern University.

    I first started coaching Soccer at age 19, while in college. I have been coaching both boys and girls youth teams off and on for 28 years.

    I currently hold Grassroots coaching certificates for 9v9  as well as 11v11. I am also a licensed Referee.

  • Hector Pantoja
    Staff Coach
    Hector Pantoja started playing soccer at the age of 9 throughout the metro Atlanta area wherever he could find a team, from Cherokee to Dalton to Gilmer. He continued playing as an adult and, once his children were ready to play, he began to coach.
     
    He began his youth coaching career In the spring season of 2019 as a recreational coach with a U6 team in Gilmer County. He finally found his way to UFA and in fall of 2023 begun to coach at the Academy level. Hector has a passion for the game but now also a desire to pass that passion onto the next generation.
  • Chris Portelli
    Staff Coach
    Grassroots License

    Chris Portelli has been with UFA since 2015. He spent most of this time coaching various Rec age groups out of Matt Park in Forsyth County. During that time, he took several teams to academy level tournaments and the teams competed well. This led him to move to Rock Creek and he has been coaching at the Academy/Select level since 2022. Chris holds the US Grassroots 11 v 11 certificate.

    Chris was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Middletown, NJ. Like most kids Chris played various sports, Baseball, Football, and Basketball throughout his childhood, but soccer was always his love. Upon graduating High School, Chris took his next chapter to Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. Chris Played for the Hawks all 4 years and played mostly at the wing position before finally settling in as a center back his Senior year. Chris received his bachelor’s in business from RWU, and continued his Education with a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. After college was no different, jumping into other sports, Running, cycling and Triathlon but also continued to play soccer after college for club and adult teams.

    Chris’s goals as a coach are to have fun but also compete. The game is the best teacher and gives the players skills outside of sport. So, when his team loses, he teaches and pulls the lesson you gain from those defeats as well as reminds them to be humble in victory. His favorite quote for his players is “Hustle Beats Talent, when Talent Does not Hustle,” so stresses we will never get out hustled.

  • David Purdum
    Staff Coach
    USSF D license

    David Purdum, a licensed grassroots U.S. Soccer coach, is entering his seventh year and 12th season with UFA Mountains. He has worked with ages ranging from U6 up to U12.

    He believes in a fun-first philosophy and strives to create a player-centric environment on and off the pitch. He is a member of the Dawson County School mentoring program and has worked with children in a variety of roles for 20 years.

    Off the pitch, he is a professional sports writer, currently with ESPN.

  • Brandon Stewart
    Staff Coach
    USSF C license

    Coach Brandon Stewart is a 4 year veteran of UFA Mt, Dawsonville.   He will be coaching U11, u13 boys, and U19 Girls.  He has led multiple promotions, league titles, tournament finalists and champions.

    He grew up in Conyers, Ga where he played club at RYSA(Currently GSA EAST) and Heritage High school.  After a stellar youth and high school career, he played 4 years at Berry College in Rome, Ga.

    Coach Brandon returned to RYSA after college, coaching at the club level from 2001-2020.   From 2009-2020 he was the boys head coach at Heritage High school as well.  In the summer of 2020, he was hired as the boys Head Coach at North Forsyth High School where he has built a successful program serving as a teacher in the Special Education Department.  His wife currently is employed in Forsyth County Schools and they have 3 children 2008 and 2014 boys currently playing at UFA.

  • Matt Wagner
    Staff Coach
    USSF D License
    Matt Wagner, a native of Atlanta and Forsyth County, currently resides in Cumming with his wife Rossmary, and teenage daughters, Kyla and Jaiden. Matt's coaching journey began with UFA Forsyth before joining UFA Mountains. His coaching philosophy places a strong emphasis on individual player development, a focus that has consistently led his teams to undefeated seasons and promotions. 
     
    Off the field, Matt holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech, and works in professional education as a Senior Program Manager of Technical Enablement. In his spare time, he enjoys the great outdoors and working on creative video production projects. This year, Matt is pursuing his USSF Level D license to further enhance his coaching expertise. In the offseason, you'll find Matt cheering on his players at their high school matches.

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