Mark Wagner Steps Away From Men’s Soccer; Jeremy Payne Serves as Interim Head Coach

      During the week of March 20, Mark Wagner, the Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer team, announced that he had “made the decision to step away from college coaching.” He departed in early April to focus on his work as the founder and president of Future 500 ID Camps, a college ID camp that hosts more than 75 universities with teams from Divisions I, II and III.

      Wagner served in his coaching position for 19 years. During his time as Head Coach, Men’s Soccer won five league championships and played in four conference championship games. They also continued into post-season play during 18 of these seasons. In the past four years alone, the team won 60 games and two MAC Freedom Championships. In total, Wagner led the Eagles to 291 wins with a 235-101-24 record.

      Wagner, who has been named a conference coach of the year six times, also served as Eastern’s Athletic Director between 2008 and 2010. During his time at Eastern he remained “a valuable resource and mentor for young coaches in the department.”

      “The decision to step down from Eastern has been a difficult one, but it has become clear to me that it’s no longer possible to run both a high-level soccer program and a rapidly-growing business,” Wagner says. “I wish I could create more hours in a day.”

      Bettie Ann Brigham, Vice Provost for Student Development, calls Wagner “reliable, dedicated, wise and mission-centered” and says she will miss “his gentle and caring heart.” Similarly, Heidi Birtwistle, Interim Athletic Director, says she is “grateful to Mark for his friendship and service.”

      Assistant Coach Jeremy Payne has been selected to be Interim Head Coach of Men’s Soccer. Payne, who has twice been recognized as a NSCAA DIII National Player of the Year, has helped lead the team for two years. Wagner is confident that Payne is “well-prepared to lead the program,” as “he really understands both coaching and leadership.” Wagner adds that he “feel[s] good…leaving the guys in good hands,” and Birtwistle believes Payne will maintain Wagner’s “legacy of excellence.”

       “I want to thank everyone at Eastern for their generosity and support, and I’d especially like to thank all of the players and assistant coaches,” Wagner says. He also extends “a very special thanks” to Associate Head Coach Jim Henderson and to his wife, Linda, for being “the real coach–and a better one than I could ever dream to be.”


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