December 29, 2012
The Cape Coral Hurricanes have been extremely busy this offseason with adding new owners, new business partners, and new staff but the most impressive accomplishment to date happened on Christmas Eve as they received word that the head coach that they were hoping and wishing for had accepted the position. Joe Zakowicz, who is also the men’s head coach for Southwest Florida’s own Ave Maria University, accepted the position only a few days after being offered it.
“It just seemed like a perfect match,” exclaimed Zakowicz, “after I talked with J.P. and Eric and had a few days to do some soul searching with my wife, it became clear that this was a great opportunity. It impressed me that the team was Christian-based and how the organization battled through adversity and came out of it with such a successful exhibition season. They have a solid reputation and I hope that I can help build a team that everyone can be very proud of. It really seems as though everything is falling into place. We have a lot of talent here in Southwest Florida and we’re going to compete at a very high level. This is what I love to do and I’m committed to impacting our players... physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m extremely excited about the upcoming season and plan to remain with the organization for years to come. We’re intent on building something special here.”
Joe Zakowicz has proven success on both the men’s and women’s NAIA circuit. He just concluded his second season with Ave Maria University where he knocked off two-time defending conference champions, St. Thomas University, in a late season clash and placed two players on the All-Conference team. He accomplished that while also garnishing the respect of his peers with his selection as the conference Coach Of The Year.
Prior to Ave Maria, he was the architect of the Mid-Continent University men’s soccer program, which he built into a national contender. He led the team to a 142-64-18 record from 2000-2009. He has an overall record of 157-84-19 coaching collegiate men’s soccer (12 seasons). He has posted an overall coaching record of 202-123-21 over 17 total seasons coaching both men’s and women’s soccer.
His teams won 6 regular season conference championships, 4 conference tournament championships, 3 region championships, and one national championship (NCCAA). Zakowicz garnered 4 Conference Coach Of The Year awards, 2 NAIA Region Coach Of The Year awards, 6 NCCAA Region Coach Of The Year awards, and 1 NCCAA National Coach of The Year award while serving at Mid-Continent. His players garnered numerous honors for All-Scholar, All-Conference, All Region, and All-American teams. His 2001 Team also garnered the 2001 NAIA Team Academic Award.
“I couldn’t be happier,” stated Hurricanes General Manager J.P. Terrasi. “This was honestly one of the best Christmas gifts I could have asked for. Joe is an exceptional coach with a vast amount of coaching, administration and leadership experience. He knows how to build a team and develop players but more importantly he has strong Christian values and an unwavering faith that will help build strong character in our players as well.”
Furthermore, Zakowicz also had numerous administrative duties over the course of his career including being MCU’s Associate Vice-President for Advancement, which included duties in fundraising and grant proposal writing. Prior to Mid-Continent, Coach Zakowicz was also the architect of the highly successful Bethel University (McKenzie, TN) men’s and women’s soccer programs which won the NAIA National Championship in 2008.
Prior to MCU, he helped rebuild the Oklahoma Wesleyan University women’s team that enjoyed their first winning seasons in their history and set more than 20 new school records while he was head coach. He began his collegiate coaching career at NCAA III Wesley College in Dover, Delaware where he spent three years. There are currently at least twelve former players and/or assistant coaches serving in the collegiate ranks that started under his tutelage.
Zakowicz also currently serves on the tournament board for the NAIA that just concluded its Men’s Soccer Championship last month. He has served as a KIAC Conference Chair, TSAC Conference Chair, NCCAA Region Chair, NCCAA National Vice Chair, NAIA Region rater, and as NAIA National rater. Prior to coaching, he also enjoyed success as a player at Bartlesville Wesleyan College, now called Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Outside of the soccer arena, Zakowicz has worked for the Pennzoil Company for more than eight years, and has also owned and operated his own businesses in the private sector. He also started a soccer club in the Western Kentucky area. He is a native of Rochester, NY and is married to Darla Zakowicz. They have one daughter, Alisha, and they currently reside in the Ave Maria community.
As one of the newest and most ambitious clubs in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the Cape Coral Hurricanes will be making other big announcements over the next few weeks. The NPSL season will take place during the summer months of May through July, with regional playoffs that will result in a national champion. The Hurricanes will play in the South Region and in the newly formed Sunshine Conference that will feature five other teams: Atlanta Silverbacks, Georgia Revolution, Miami United, Jacksonville United and Tampa Marauders.