BETHANY, W.Va. –Bethany College men’s assistant soccer coach Barry Christmas has been named the new head women’s soccer coach, as announced by athletic director and head men’s soccer coach Kosmas Mouratidis.

Christmas steps into the position that was opened when Melissa Hudson, who had served as the head women’s coach for three years, became a full-time professor in the school’s physical education department.

“I am genuinely excited about the prospect of working to enhance the women’s program,” said Christmas. “While it is a fresh challenge, I obviously have the luxury of being familiar with the school and the facilities that will be attracting recruits because recruiting student-athletes that are highly motivated to be successful in the classroom and on the field of play is a priority.”

For the past two years, Christmas has been an assistant with the men’s program. During his stint, he helped guide BC to a 26-10-4 record, including a 13-3-2 mark in the PAC. After the Bison went 12-6-1 in 2005, they recorded a 14-4-3 record this past fall and finished first in the conference regular season standings while setting a school record with eight consecutive shutouts. Following the season, Bethany earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2001, where they dropped a hard-fought 1-0 decision in the opening round to Denison (Ohio) University.

In his new role, Christmas will be taking the reins to a women’s program that has won five PAC titles in their 17 years in the conference, but only one since 1994, with that coming in 1999. This past season saw BC finish with a 4-12-1 record overall and a 2-4 PAC mark, which placed them fifth in the league, one spot away from a berth in the conference tournament.

Christmas is from Manchester in England and originally came to the states in 1997 coaching soccer camps. He returned to his homeland in 2001 and took a position with the professional club Northwich Victoria as head coach of their youth team. Since returning to the states in 2005, Christmas, who has coaching certifications in the shape of UEFA and NSCAA advanced certificates, has rejoined the West Virginia Soccer Association Olympic Development coaching staff and is part of the Coach Education staff for the state.

According to Mouratidis, the 2006 Men’s Soccer PAC Coach of the Year, although he loses a key part of his coaching staff, he feels the move is a tremendous step for the women’s program.

“After conducting a national search, we have found the best person for the job in our own backyard,” said Mouratidis. “Barry provides a proven coach and recruiter for the women’s soccer program and his ability to communicate and develop players was one of the key factors in this decision. The College feels very fortunate that a person of Barry’s caliber has accepted this challenge.

“And while it will be difficult to replace him on the men’s side, he will just be in the office next door,” said Mouratidis. “I look forward to working with him to continue the development of the whole soccer program at Bethany.”

Christmas’ experience with the men’s team primed him for this chance and has him thinking of goals for his team for next year, although he isn’t in position to disclose those at this time.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to encounter the facets of the college game in the men’s program at close hand,” said Christmas. “And I also fully appreciate the extent of the responsibilities Kos entrusted me with and am sure that hands-on experience will stand me in good stead.

“While I firmly believe in setting goals as a target for the program, I would rather keep what they are amongst the coaching staff and players at this early stage,” said Christmas. “Setting goals is easy, but working towards and achieving them is the portion we will be measured upon at a later date.”

Christmas, who completed his BSC degree in sports science and coaching psychology at Staffordshire University and his master’s degree in education from Manchester Metropolitan University, will also continue his duties as a lecturer in Bethany’s physical education and sports studies department. He currently resides in Wheeling with his wife, Jennifer-Renee, and their three children.