Cleveland City Stars News Release – www.clevelandcitystars.com
Thursday, February 5, 2009
CLEVELAND, OH — The Cleveland City Stars have announced the hiring of Rod Underwood to serve as the new head coach for the 2009 season and beyond.
Underwood becomes the second head coach in club history after spending the past two seasons as the first assistant with the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division.
Cleveland will not be the first head coaching position for the A-License coach as the native of Atlanta served as a head coach from 1994 through 1998 with three different USL teams.
«To be a head up is something that I wanted to do again,» said Underwood «The pressure of being a head coach is something that I thrive on. I look forward to building a team and leading a team in the way God wants people to be leaders.»
Underwood becomes the only African-American head coach in the USL First Division and will look to make an impact on the City of Cleveland through the team’s Rising Stars Youth Program and other community outreach programs.
«This is a blessing and honor to be provided this opportunity to lead a team in the USL First Division,» said Underwood. «I hope this inspires other (African-Americans) to achieve in the game of soccer and opens doors for others and I look forward to the opportunity to impact kid’s lives. My personal goal in life is to impact as many people as possible in a positive manner.»
Underwood’s previous head coaching experience will prove beneficial this year during the Stars inaugural season in the First Division. Underwood coached the 1997 Albuquerque Geckos to the D3 (now USL-2) championship before coaching the club through its promotion to the A-League (now USL-1) a season later.
Underwood’s experience in handling the City Stars unique situation was only part of the reason for the hire.
«Rod was one of our prime candidates from day one, because of his experiences in taking teams to the next level, but also because of his straight forward coaching style and because he’s been a presence in the league for a long time,» said Cleveland City Stars General Manager Mark Geissbauer. «Rod provides a positive role model for kids in the urban areas of Cleveland, a great leader for the players on the sideline and I’m sure he’ll be a treasure for the fans of Cleveland. We are proud to have Rod on board. He is excited to join us in our mission to serve the city and change the world and we feel as though he’s the perfect fit to continue the success of the Cleveland City Stars.»
Underwood was born in New Orleans and grew up in Atlanta before earning his Bachelor’s Degree from Furman University in 1989. While at Furman, Underwood played forward for the Paladins and was the leading goal scorer as a freshman en route to becoming a three-time all-conference selection and the conference tournament most valuable player as a senior.
Underwood moved onto a professional career after graduation and played for USL’s New Mexico Chiles, Albuquerque Geckos and New Orleans Gamblers during his nine-year career.
While with the New Mexico Chiles in 1994, Underwood started his coaching career as a player-coach before moving onto the Albuquerque Geckos as a player-coach in 1997.
Underwood retired from playing the following season to focus solely on coaching and had stints with the South Carolina Shamrocks as the head coach and at Georgia State University as an assistant coach.
Underwood lives with his wife Alyssa, and is the proud father of daughter Chanel and son Zechariah.