Wally Crittenden has elevated the storied Stephen F. Austin women’s soccer program to new heights in three seasons as the Ladyjacks’ head coach. He is set to begin his fourth year at the helm in the fall of 2016.
Crittenden was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in each of his first three seasons at SFA after winning three straight regular season championships from 2013-15 as part of the program’s streak of five consecutive league crowns. He is the only coach in SLC history to be honored as the league’s top coach in three consecutive seasons and now owns the most individual coaching awards in the conference.
He boasts an overall record of 41-14-6 (.721) during his time in Nacogdoches, including an impressive 29-2-3 (.897) mark in SLC play. By helping SFA extend its regular season championship streak to five in 2015, the Ladyjacks became the only team in the country to win a conference title outright in each of the last five seasons.
After playing the 10th-toughest non-conference schedule in Division I women’s soccer in 2015, the Ladyjacks readied themselves for a ‘Drive to Five’ during the SLC slate. SFA posted an 8-1-2 league record to secure its fifth straight title and clinch the number one seed in the conference tournament. For the fifth time in the last six years, an SFA player was presented the SLC Player of the Year award as junior midfielder Amanda Doyle claimed the prize for an outstanding season.
The Ladyjacks also nabbed the most all-conference selections with Doyle and junior defender Brooke Dunnigan being selected to the first team and senior midfielder Rachel Owens, sophomore forward Hanna Barker, senior defender Chantal Curry and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lillie Ehlert landing a spot on the second team.
In his first two seasons at SFA, Crittenden led the Ladyjacks to their best two-year period in school history with an .810 winning percentage (32-6-4).
The Ladyjacks finished the 2014 season with a 16-3-1 overall record, including an unblemished 11-0 mark in Southland Conference play en route to an unprecedented fourth straight SLC regular season championship. Crittenden led his team to a program-record 14 consecutive wins heading into the SLC Tournament Championship – the longest winning streak in the nation over the stretch. As one of only five schools in the country to go undefeated in conference play, SFA also finished the season undefeated at home for the third time in the last four seasons (2011, 2012, 2014).
As a team, SFA finished the year ranked sixth in the nation in shutout percentage (.650), seventh in save percentage (.876), 10th in win percentage (.825) and 11th in goals against average (.588).
With the vast amount of team success, Crittenden saw a plethora of his players reach significant milestones and earn prestigious awards in 2014. Senior Chelsea Raymond set the new career points total standard with 115 points, ending a tremendous career. The Ladyjacks became the first team in SLC history to sweep the major postseason awards with Crittenden (Coach of the Year), Zuri Prince (Player of the Year), Hanna Barker (Freshman of the Year) and Christa Robinson (Newcomer of the Year) being honored along with five First Team All-SLC selections, one second-teamer and four honorable mention honorees.
Crittenden’s seniors Prince, Raymond and Megan Dunnigan went on to receive All-Region accolades and Glick was named a Capital One Academic All-American at the end of the year to cap one of the most memorable soccer seasons in SFA history. In the spring, Dunnigan, Glick and Raymond all signed professional contracts to continue their playing careers in Iceland, representing SFA’s first soccer players to turn pro.
In his first year at the helm in 2013, Crittenden amassed a 16-3-3 (.795 win percentage) record while the Ladyjacks matched or broke 13 different program records. During the year, SFA won the 2013 SLC title, was ranked as high as fourth in the region and received votes for the first time in program history for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Top 25 poll, set the program record for most shutouts in a season (14), set the best seven-game start in program history, matched the program-best with 15 wins in the regular season, completed the first undefeated season on the road (8-0-2), finished 10th in the country in goals against average (.520) and finished ninth in the country in shutout percentage (.636). Crittenden also saw nine players recognized by the Southland on either the first team, second team, or honorable mention for league play and four players named to the SLC All-Tournament Team. Following the historic 2013 season, the awards continued as three Ladyjacks were named to the 2013 NSCAA/Continental Tire All-Central Region second team and the entire squad earned the 2013 NSCAA Team Academic Award.
Prior to SFA, Crittenden spent the 2010-2012 seasons in College Station assisting a nationally-ranked Texas A&M program that recorded a combined 52-16-6 (.743) record in his three years. During that stretch, the Aggies won two Big 12 crowns and the 2012 SEC West Division title, advancing to the NCAA Championships all three seasons. The Aggies climbed as high as fifth in the polls, and set program records for most shutouts in a season, most consecutive scoreless minutes and fewest goals allowed. Crittenden helped guide a Texas A&M defense that ranked among the nation's elite in their transition to a new conference. In 2012, the Aggies led the league and finished fifth nationally in scoring defense with a 0.51 goals against average.
Prior to his move to the Lone Star State, Crittenden made coaching stops at University of Nebraska (2007-2009 seasons) and the University of Oklahoma (2005 and 2006 seasons). During his time in Norman, Oklahoma, Crittenden made a name for himself as a defensive-minded coach. The Sooners set program records for fewest goals against, lowest goals-against average, and most shutouts by a goalkeeper. Before his time at Oklahoma, Crittenden was the head girl's soccer coach and English teacher at Pasadena Memorial High School in Pasadena, Texas (2003-2005). Crittenden began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach on the men's soccer team at Lynn University (2002).
Crittenden also serves on the coaching and instructor staffs for the South Texas Youth Soccer Association (STYSA), the USYSA Region III Olympic Development Program Regional Staff, and the ECNL-PDP staff.
Crittenden is an active member in the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), where he has earned a USSF "B" License and a National Goalkeeper Certificate. He is also an active member of the NSCAA, where he has earned the NSCAA National Goalkeeper Certificate.
Crittenden received his Bachelor's of Education Degree in Sports Management from Florida International University (1998-03), where he also played soccer from 1998-01. He was named an Under-18 ODP All-American and was a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team in 1998. Crittenden then received his master's degree in higher education administration from Nebraska (2007-10) where he was also awarded the Young Alumni Award in 2012 in recognition of his contributions in a major research initiative, The Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab, that was formed within the Nebraska Athletic Department as a result of his graduate-degree work.
Crittenden resides in Nacogdoches with his his wife Cori and their two daughters Kellen and Bridget.