Mel Heinz announced Tuesday that she will be leaving her position as women’s soccer head coach at Valdosta State.
Heinz will be changing careers to work with her self-employed brother at his business in the Atlanta area.
Heinz said in a VSU press release that she spent much time mulling over the decision and is at peace with it. She will be taking over the sales and account-management duties of her brother’s business.
Heinz built the VSU soccer program in 2011 and led the Blazers to National Tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013.
The Blazers had an overall record of 33-16-7. Heinz was named Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year in 2011 and had a total of 27 players with All-Academic Honors.
Heinz held a team meeting on Monday before a practice and broke the news to her team.
“This was an absolute shock to the team,” junior goalkeeper Olivia Mills said. “The mood at practice was very dreary.”
It was a hard announcement for Mills and her teammates to hear.
“It was extremely emotional,” Mills said. “(It was) one of the most emotional experiences for me personally through soccer−not a dry eye in the room.”
Mills is distraught by Heinz’s decision but as a leader realizes she can’t frown upon it for too long.
“My plan of action is to remind the young ones that I, along with all of the upcoming seniors, still believe in this team 100 percent,” Mills said. “Yeah, we’ve been thrown a curve ball, and it’s a tough one, but this team is still comprised of the elements (talent, hard work, and unity) that have made our success thus far.”
Mills is ready for this next challenge and wants Heinz to succeed in her new venture.
“We are happy for coach Heinz, and we wish her the absolute best in this new chapter to come, but it’s going to be a tough break,” Mills said.
VSU will begin a national search to fill the position in the coming weeks.
This story was written by Alex Tostado