Winkworth calls it quits

The UNA soccer team pictured with head coach Graham Winkworth after their game against Delta State.

After spending 10 seasons as head coach for the UNA women’s soccer team, Graham Winkworth has resigned from his position and accepted the head coach position at the University of South Alabama, officials said.

Winkworth holds a 111-81-8 overall record and is the winningest coach in the UNA soccer program’s history. The program has earned 33 Gulf South Conference honors during his time as head coach, including five in 2012, and has produced the program’s first two All-Americans in UNA women’s soccer history.

“I want to thank President (Bill) Cale and Athletic Director Mark Linder for all the opportunities they have provided me over the years and for the support that enabled the transformation of the soccer program here,” Winkworth said in the university’s press release. “I also want to thank the staff in the department for being so supportive the last 10 years.

“Most of all I want to thank the players that I have had the opportunity to coach over the years. I have been extremely lucky to work with some wonderful young ladies who have transformed my life and I am thankful for that.”

A job description has already been posted and the search for a new head coach has begun, Linder said.

“We’re moving as quickly as possible to find someone of high quality to come in and coach,” he said.

Linder said it is crucial to find a new coach as soon as possible because the soccer program is currently in the middle of recruitment season.

“Soccer does recruitment (on a timeframe) much like football,” he said. “And with February and signing day looming ahead, we’re looking to recruit some good players to replace our outgoing seniors.”

Linder said the job search is being conducted at a national level.

Winkworth started as head coach of the women’s soccer program after spending two seasons as assistant coach at the University of Central Arkansas from 2001 to 2003.

He was the program’s third head coach since it began in 1996 and has led the Lions to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances over the last four seasons. Winkworth also helped the program reach its first GSC soccer championship in school history in 2011.

Winkworth led the Lions to a breakout season in 2009, including the school’s first appearance in an NCAA Tournament and earning the honor of most improved women’s soccer team in the country. Following that season, he was named the GSC Coach of the Year.

He finished the 2012 season with a 13-6-1 record, leading the team to the championship match of the GSC Tournament and the semifinals of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament.