Leslie Gillies is in her seventh season as associate head coach in 2020 after serving as a full-time assistant coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin since 2010.
During her tenure at UT Martin, the Skyhawks have strung together five combined OVC championships (including four consecutive titles from 2011-13). Gillies has helped guide players to 20 All-OVC first team honors, eight honorees on the second team and 18 on the All-Newcomer team.
Last fall, UT Martin clicked towards the end of the season, stringing together a five-matchup unbeaten streak to ultimately finish this in the league standings with a 6-2-2 mark. Overall, the Skyhawks posted an 8-6-5 record, equaling the most ties in a single season in school history. The Skyhawk trio of Maria Castaldo (first team defender), Bella Roberts (second team midfielder) and Elin Berggren (second team defender) each captured All-OVC postseason accolades. The freshman tandem of Castaldo and Berggren were also named to the OVC's All-Newcomer team. Goalkeeper Erica Myers led the OVC with five shutouts (four of which came in league play) and ranked 20th nationally with 104 saves.
Gillies was a major factor in UT Martin's record-setting 2018 campaign, as the Skyhawks shattered the program record with 15 wins on its way to the OVC regular season championship. UT Martin was ranked as high as 65th nationally based off the NCAA RPI and ranked as high as eighth in the South Region of the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Skyhawks received national recognition for their impressive season, as the NCAA crowned UT Martin as its Most Improved Program for the 2018 campaign.
The 2018 Skyhawks set new school records in points (128), goals (49) and shots (401) while also ranking in the top-15 in the country in shots on goal per match (10.32, first), shots per match (21.11, fourth), scoring offense (2.58, fifth), winning percentage (.816, 10th), total goals (49, 15th) and points per match (6.74, 15th). UT Martin reeled off a 13-match unbeaten streak from Sept. 7 through Nov. 2, going 15-3-1 overall to go along with a 9-0-1 OVC mark.
Nine different Skyhawks combined for 13 All-OVC postseason honors in 2018, including the senior duo of Amy McGivern (OVC Player of the Year) and Kaci Mitchell (OVC Defensive Player of the Year). Joining McGivern and Mitchell on the All-OVC first team was Danae Kaldaridou and Erica Myers while Skylor Keane (All-OVC second team, All-OVC Newcomer) and Sam Kelly (All-OVC Newcomer) also received accolades. Additionally, the trio of McGiven, Mitchell and Kaldaridou each claimed a spot on the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women's All-South Region team.
In 2017, Gillies was instrumental in producing an impressive season with one of the youngest teams in the nation as the Skyhawks made it back to the OVC tournament. She also saw Kaldaridou be named to the All-OVC first team while Kamryn Chappell picked up an All-Newcomer nod.
The 2016 season featured the development of sophomores McGivern and Kaldaridou. McGivern captured All-OVC first team accolades after ranking in the top-10 in the OVC in points per game (0.72, ninth) and goals (five, 10th). Kaldaridou accumulated four goals and two assists on her way to tallying All-OVC newcomer status.
After a slow start to the season, the Skyhawks rallied to claim a tie for third place in the league standings and ultimately a home contest in the first round of the OVC Soccer Championship in 2015. Three Skyhawks earned All-OVC honors with Maggie Burkett and Rebecca Starnes earning first team nods while Saphyra Coombs-James earned second team honors. The freshman duo of Starnes and Burkett were also joined on the All-Newcomer squad by Lisa Schmieder.
In 2014, the Skyhawks opened the season with a school-record four victories on their way to a fourth-straight season with double-digit victories. Guiding the team to a 12-6-2 record including a 6-3-1 conference slate, the Skyhawks were offensively gifted by leading the OVC in shots taken. The season saw newcomer Rianna Jarrett set a school-record with 17 goals on her way to the program’s first OVC Player of the Year honor. In the conference tournament, UT Martin fell in a shootout to Jacksonville State.
Gillies was instrumental in building UT Martin into a conference power as she helped lead the Skyhawks to a piece of conference history in 2013. UT Martin picked up its fourth consecutive OVC title - including two regular season and tournament championships - after rattling off an 8-2 record in conference play to win their second consecutive season crown. The Skyhawks became the first team in conference history to pull off such a streak.
The Skyhawks saw five players take home six OVC awards, highlighted by three All-OVC first team selections for Mariah Klenke, Aoife Lennon and Hannah Fessenden while Alyssa Curtis earned second team honors. Lennon was joined by classmate Ellie Myrick as All-Newcomer selections. Three players took home All-Tournament honors as Lennon and Fessenden both joined Lucy Pater. As a whole, six Skyhawks took home either All-OVC or All-OVC Tournament accolades in 2013.
In 2012, Gillies was part of arguably the best season in Skyhawk soccer history. UT Martin cruised through its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship on its way to a 13-6-3 overall record. For the second straight season, UT Martin advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where it battled against Southeastern Conference power Kentucky before falling 1-0 in overtime.
Gillies guided eight Skyhawks to either All-OVC or All-OVC Tournament honors in 2012. That list includes Coombs-James (OVC Freshman of the Year, All-OVC first team, All-OVC Newcomer), Klenke (All-OVC first team, All-OVC Tournament team, OVC Tournament MVP), Ashley Reveiz (All-OVC first team, All-OVC Newcomer), Hannah McGowen (All-OVC first team), Alyssa Curtis (All-OVC second team), Lucy Pater (All-OVC Tournament team), Amy Maksimowicz (All-OVC Tournament team) and Mary Thompson (All-OVC Tournament team).
In 2011, Gillies helped guide the Skyhawks to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, as a result of winning the OVC Tournament championship. She presided over a squad that shattered the program record for matches played (23), victories (14), highest winning percentage (.652), longest winning streak (six), points (120), assists (34) and shots (383).
Gillies coached four All-OVC performers in 2011, led by OVC Defensive Player of the Year Melissa Govea. Both Govea and Brooke Robertson notched all-league first team accolades, while Maksimowicz and Midori Sera were named the All-OVC Newcomer squad.
In 2010, Gillies and the Skyhawks found their groove at the midpoint of the season, as UT Martin produced victories in seven of nine matches during one spurt in the schedule. She also oversaw a defense that grinded out eight shutouts, which tied a single-season UT Martin program record. Gillies additionally coached Rosaelia Loza and Sam Dunn, who earned All-OVC second team and All-Newcomer accolades under Gillies' tutelage in 2010.
Prior to UT Martin, Gillies spent three seasons as an assistant coach under McNamara at Carson-Newman, helping the Eagles to a 40-14-2 record (including a school-record 20 wins in 2009), three consecutive NCAA Division-II Tournament appearances and two South Atlantic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
At Carson-Newman, Gillies was responsible for the organization of practices, ongoing recruitment, workouts, administrative duties such as travel and scheduling, player development and team preparation, among other things.
Not only did Gillies coach with McNamara at Carson-Newman, she also finished out her collegiate playing career for him from 2004 through 2006 before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology in 2007.
In those three seasons, Gillies led the team to a 53-10-3 record, including an 18-3 conference slate. A forward and outside midfielder, she led the team to back-to-back NCAA Division-II Tournament Final Fours, as well as two regular-season SAC titles and two SAC Tournament titles. Perhaps the most impressive feat is that as a player, she was part of the three most winningest seasons in Carson-Newman history at that point in time, including a then-school-record 19 wins in 2004.
Before playing at Carson-Newman, Gillies spent two seasons playing in Conference-USA for head coach Paul Harbin at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As a true freshman, she logged 203 minutes and scored her first career point on an assist against Jackson State on Oct. 25, 2002. The next season, she saw limited action because of an injury. In her two years at UAB, the Blazers went 22-14-2 with a 13-7 league record.
A Marietta, Ga. native, Gillies was a four-year letterwinner at Sprayberry High School, where she was an all-star selection in the state of Georgia. She scored 56 goals - including a team-high 21 her junior season - in her career and led the Yellow Jackets to a state 5A quarterfinalist berth in 2001, as well as a 6AAAA Sub-Region championship and pair of 6AAAA Sub-Region runner-up appearances.
Leslie married Chris Gillies in November 2012. The couple resides in Martin.