Family ties last.
Bob Dikranian, considered by some as the father of southern Connecticut soccer, will join the Bulls coaching staff in August as an assistant and renew his acquaintance with Bulls coach George Kiefer.
“He’s like the father of the southern Connecticut soccer family,” Kiefer said. “A lot of players and coaches have come out of that scene and have gone on to be very successful.”
The pair met during Kiefer’s Southern Connecticut State University playing days when Dikranian served as an assistant coach.
Later, when Kiefer took his first steps in coaching as an assistant at SCSU, Dikranian was on hand serving SCSU as consultant to both the men’s and women’s programs. Kiefer also credits Dikranian as a major influence on UConn coach Ray Reid, for whom Kiefer served as assistant before joining USF.
Dikranian, who coached SCSU for 21 years, will replace Jim Felix, who resigned in March. The program also announced the signing of Bolivian Erwin Suarez, bringing the number of new additions to the squad for the 2003 season to 10.
Credited with founding the SCSU men’s program, Dikranian took the Owls to 14 NCAA Division II tournament appearances, including a national title in 1987, and was inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
“When I started coaching, I would spend time with him scouting. He’s one of the best X’s and O’s guys in the country,” Kiefer said. “If you talk to people who’ve been in the game a long time, they know him because he’s so good at what he does. The fact he’s coming here is a real blessing.”
Dikranian, who will join the Bulls on a volunteer basis, will be responsible for scouting opponents, analyzing matches on tape and assisting Kiefer with “anything that relates to tactics.”
Felix’s resignation severs the last link on the coaching staff to former coach John Hackworth, whose other former assistant, Mike Duncan, stepped down at the conclusion of the Bulls’ 2002 campaign. Felix said his decision would enable him to pursue other career opportunities.
“I thought it was time to move,” Felix said. “I enjoyed working with Kiefer. He’s taken the program in the right direction, and I wish them all the success in the world.”
Reflecting on his three seasons with the Bulls, Felix, who played two seasons at USF as an undergraduate, said he had relished the chance to coach where his collegiate career started.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world – great school and great people,” Felix said. “It’s always special to come back and work at a place where you played. What I will miss most will be the players.”
In addition to the appointment of Dikranian, the soccer program was further boosted by the signing of former Bolivian U-17 national team member Suarez to a national letter of intent. Suarez, who transfers from Monroe Community College as a junior, has one of the most prized attributes in soccer.
“He’s left-footed. He could be an attacking midfielder or an inside left. He understands how to play the game, and his style fits perfectly,” Kiefer said.
The Bolivian is a graduate of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., which has included U.S. men’s national team stars Claudio Reyna, Tab Ramos and Gregg Berhalter in its ranks. Kiefer said he was optimistic other St. Benedict’s Prep graduates would join Suarez.
“They’re consistently in the top five nationally,” Kiefer said. “By attracting him, we hope that it will create a pipeline from there to USF, which is important for recruiting the next guy.”