A veteran of 32 years of coaching soccer, including 23 at the collegiate level and seven in the professional ranks, Petersen joined the Lakers as head coach in April of 2004. He begins his 17th year at the helm of the men’s soccer program in 2019 and is the longest tenured head coach in team history. He is also the second longest active member of the Clayton State Athletic Department behind only Mike Mead of cross country and track & field.
CLAYTON STATE (2004-PRESENT, HEAD COACH)
One of the most successful coaches in the history of the Department, Petersen enters 2019 with a record of 147-98-24 (.591) on the Laker sidelines and is the program’s all-time wins leader, doubling up on John Rootes’ (1998-03) second place total of 66 victories.
In the 27-year history of the program, Clayton State has advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament six times and won eight Peach Belt Conference regular season or tournament titles. Four of those NCAA appearances and all but two championships have come during his tenure.
He led the team to the NCAA Tournament in three of his first four years (2004, 2005, 2007) before making that fourth trip in 2010. That year would be the most successful in program history as the Lakers went 19-4 overall and won three straight one goal games to earn the Southeast Regional championship and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in team history. Following those wins over Lees-McRae (2-1), Flagler (1-0) and Anderson (1-0), it would take overtime for Rollins to slip past them by a 3-2 score in the national semifinals.
Petersen has been just as successful at leading Clayton State to league championships with regular season and tournament sweeps in 2005 and 2007, along with regular season titles in 2007 and 2010. Additionally, throughout his time on the sidelines in Morrow, Georgia, he has consistently fielded a team that is no stranger to the national rankings.
Four times his teams have finished the season in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) rankings, including No. 15 in 2004, No. 12 in 2005, No. 22 in 2007 and No. 5 in 2010. The latter season also saw the team hit a high water mark of fourth in the country after getting as high as fifth in 2007 and sixth in 2005.
This success has been bourn largely from the high quality players that Petersen has been able to recruit either to, or from, the soccer hotbed that is Atlanta, Georgia. Among those he has coached are eight of the program’s 11 All-Americans, 27 NSCAA and 21 Daktronics/D2CCA All-Region selections and 46 All-Peach Belt Conference performers.
Of that group, Igor Lukic was a First-Team All-American in 2010 while a combined 19 student-athletes have been named All-Region First-Team (11 NSCAA, 8 D2CCA). The latter total doesn’t include 16 individuals who were selected prior to the governing bodies designating beyond just one team, potentially increasing the First-Team total to 35.
In addition to those awards, he has also coached three PBC Players of the Year, four league Freshman of the Year honorees and has been named PBC Coach of the Year three times (2005, 2007, 2010).
Earning the top player honors were Tonny Madegwa (2007), Kyle Timm (2009) and Ryan Pugh (2010) while Jamal Geathers (2007), Leighton Fredericks (2008), Arturo Cruz (2010) and Mitro Turunen (2017) were top freshman. On top of those accomplishments, Petersen was also named the NSCAA Division II Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2010.
During his 16 seasons he has also coached or recruited a total of 14 individuals that have gone on to play professionally, including three in Major League Soccer (MLS) in Chris Klute, Mike Gustavson and Macoumba Kandji.
PRESBYTERIAN (1999, ASSISTANT COACH)
He would return to his alma mater for a season in 1999, serving on the Blue Hose staff of Ralph Polson, whom he played for during his college career. During that one season he helped Division II PC go 11-4-2 overall and 6-2 in the South Atlantic Conference.
The program recorded nine shutouts and produced numerous national, regional and conference honors. Those included NSCAA All-American honors for Rodrigo Dinsmore and All-Region recognition for Dinsmore, Ryan Comer and Andy Pfaffl. The latter was responsible for 7.5 of those nine shutouts, a mark that is still tied for fifth in program history, along with just 15 goals allowed, which is tied for sixth.
A total of six players would earn All-SAC honors with Daniel Hanks, Comer, Drew Stephen, Dinsmore, Brian Giunta and Pfaffl accomplishing that feat. Additionally, 10 members of that team were named to the SAC Academic Honor Roll highlighting their work in the classroom.
SPARTANBURG METHODIST (1989-94, HEAD COACH)
Prior to making the jump to the NCAA Division II level as a head coach, Petersen guided Spartanburg Methodist for six years. From 1989-94 he led the Pioneers to an immaculate 79-28-6 record.
During that time he produced 10 All-Americans and 19 All-South selections but delivered a crown jewel to those honors in his final season in Spartanburg in 1994. That year SMC would go on to win the program’s only National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship, defeating Yavapai College of Arizona by a 3-2 score. As a result of that tremendous campaign, he was named the 1994 NSCAA Coach of the Year.
On November 17, 2012, he received the highest athletic honor that SMC can bestow as he was inducted into the program’s Hall of Honor.
DAVIDSON (1988, ASSISTANT COACH)
Petersen began his collegiate coaching career in 1988 as an assistant with Division I Davidson. Competing as an independent that season, the Wildcats went 8-12-2, including a 1-0 victory over Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina on September 21.
Additionally, Petersen would work with freshman Rob Ukrop, who would go on to become the program’s all-time leader in goals (76), assists (32) and points (184).
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE (1994-2001)
In 1994, fresh off of a national championship, Petersen made the jump to the professional ranks in what would become the United Soccer Leagues. During that time he worked with four different organizations, including the South Carolina Shamrocks (1994-96), Jacksonville Cyclones (1997-98), Raleigh Capital Express (1999) and Atlanta Silverbacks (2000-01).
For three of those organizations Petersen got in on the ground floor, serving as the first coach in the history of the South Carolina and Raleigh franchises as well as the first general manager for the Jacksonville team. He would also coach the latter in 1998 and helped break down gender barriers within the sport the following year with Raleigh.
On May 28, 1999, the Express started veteran U.S. Women’s National Team forward Wendy Gebauer against the Boston Bulldogs. Already a member of the first Women’s World Cup Championship Team in 1991, she became the first woman to suit up in a professional men’s soccer game in the United States.
In 2000, Petersen moved to the Atlanta Silverbacks, serving as president of that organization through 2001. In his time with that established franchise he helped lead them to the postseason for the first time in six years while also earning the 2001 Most Improved Club Peer-Rating Award.
Additionally, he spearheaded the franchises’ initiatives in developing effective community programs such as Hispanic Outreach, Super Y Youth teams and the implementation of local professional camps.
Overall, he has posted a record of 44-46-1 while coaching at the professional level.
CLUB AND YOUTH LEVEL EXPERIENCE (2001-04)
Petersen has also applied his years of soccer experience at the local club and youth level, primarily from 2001-04. During that time he oversaw nearly 1,400 players while serving as the Academy Director of the Norcross Soccer Association. He has also had involvement with the Gwinnett Soccer Association (GSA), Concorde Fire and Southern Soccer Academy.
COLLEGIATE PLAYING CAREER: PRESBYTERIAN (1981-84)
A four-year standout forward for the Blue Hose men’s soccer program during its NAIA years, Petersen made quite the impact during his time in Clinton, South Carolina.
More than 30 years after the close of his playing career, Petersen still appears in the program record book three times, each a fairly major accomplishment. He is sixth all-time with 34 career goals and was the team’s all-time leader at the time of his graduation, and is tied for sixth with 13 goals in 1984. At the time he was tied for the second most in team history. His three goal game against Wofford in 1984 is still tied for sixth all-time.
Petersen raked in the national and regional honors, particularly during his final two seasons. In both 1983 and 1984 he was named an NSCAA All-Region selection before garnering NAIA and NSCAA/NAIA All-American honors as a senior. That same season he was selected as NAIA All-Area and All-District.
In 1983, playing for then first-year head coach Ralph Polson, Petersen would help lead PC to just its second winning season in program history and would help to jump start a program that would produce 11 double-digit win seasons over the next 17 years, including seven at the Division II level.
CERTIFICATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS
A long standing member of the United Soccer Coaches (USC), previously named the NSCAA, Petersen also holds a United State Soccer Federation (USSF) “A” License and is an USC Premier certified coach. Additionally, these memberships and certifications have presented opportunities for him to coach 10 national team members (both the United States and other nations), 11 Major League Soccer players and five “A” League All-Stars.
Petersen earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Presbyterian College in 1985 and also holds a Master’s in Sports Science from the United States Sports Academy in 1989.
After completing his studies at Presbyterian, Petersen enlisted in the United States Army from 1985-88. During that time he served as a First Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
The son of missionary parents, he was born in Taiwan and grew up in South Africa (Ghana and Nigeria) from 1967-81 and has traveled Europe extensively.
Petersen and his wife Mona have one daughter, Priscilla, and reside in Kennesaw, Georgia.