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Mark McKeever resigns from YHC, Dean Grey promoted to head coach

Photo by Milledge Austin / YHC Athletics

By: Michael MacEachern

Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Communications

Young Harris College Director of Athletics has announced the men's soccer head coach Mark McKeever is resigning his position immediately to pursue professional soccer. Rushton has announced that associate head coach Dean Grey will become the next head coach for the Mountain Lions.

"It's truly hard to put into words what Mark has meant to YHC and the men's soccer program," said Rushton. "Mark has been a leader to a countless number of student-athletes, holding them to the highest standard of excellence in the classroom, on the field and in the community. He is an absolute winner and we look forward to following his success as a professional coach."

Mark McKeever served as head coach of the men's soccer program for the past 17 years. The Motherwell, Scotland, native led the Mountain Lions to a 222-72-18 (.726 winning percentage) during his time in the Enchanted Valley. McKeever was ranked fifth among NCAA Division II active winningest coaches by winning percentage (.740) and 19th by total wins (222).

"This is such a bittersweet moment in my life, to leave a position I have held for over 17 years," said McKeever. "Having held only one main job since graduating with my master's degree in 2005, I have decided to embark on a journey into professional soccer.

"I would like to thank everyone at Young Harris College over the past 17 years for the opportunity to create a program that I am leaving with the reputation as one of the most elite in the country," added McKeever. "The players and coaches who played a role in this success will always be remembered for the legacy they have left behind. I am leaving the program with a coach whom I trust and care for very much; there is no better man to take the lead in the path ahead.

"I have encountered some great leaders along my journey and people whom I will cherish for putting their trust in me," stated McKeever. "I hope that the base I have built for my own life through YHC will allow me to continue on a successful path in soccer. I will never forget this amazing experience with some wonderful, talented, unique individuals along the way. My sincerest gratitude to all who were involved."

The Mountain Lions won six Peach Belt Conference regular-season titles and five PBC Tournament crowns under McKeever's leadership. YHC made six trips in the past eight years to the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Championship, including three seasons as the No. 1 regional seed in the tournament. The Mountain Lions won the NCAA Division II Southeast Region championship in 2017 and advanced to the national quarterfinals twice (2017, 2014). The Mountain Lions have been ranked as high as No. 1 in NCAA Division II by the United Soccer Coaches three times (2021, 2018, 2013).

McKeever has been named PBC Coach of the Year three times and has been recognized as the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Staff of the Year four times by the United Soccer Coaches.

Since joining NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt, McKeever coached 53 all-conference performers, 20 All-Americans, 11 CoSIDA Academic All-America® selections, six PBC Players of the Year and four PBC Freshman of the Year. In addition, McKeever had two players – Ilija Ilic (2014) and Mikie Rowe (2018) - be named NCAA Division II National Player of the Year and Scholar Player of the Year in the same season.

In his time as a coach in the NJCAA, McKeever lead his YHC teams to the Region 17 Final in four of his five years. He was selected the Region 17 Coach of the Year in 2007. The Mountain Lions were ranked in the top 15 of national standings in both 2008 and 2009. His players have received numerous prestigious awards, including NJCAA All-American, NSCAA All-American, and Region 17 Player of the Year.

Fourteen players - Ilija Ilic, Niall McCabe, Khurram Shazad, Samuel Mansour, Lewis Hilton, Paco Craig, Anuar Kanan, Mikie Rowe, Marco Micaletto, Macauley King, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Coiffic, Dani Fischer and Yesin van der Pluijm - have gone on to play professional soccer under McKeever's tutelage.

Grey has been a part of the Mountain Lion success the past 10 seasons. Grey served as an assistant coach for the first eight years before being elevated to the associate head coach position.

"I cannot begin to express how excited I am for Dean to take over our program," said Rushton. "It is rare for an assistant to stay in one place for 11 years. It fully demonstrates the loyalty and commitment that Dean has for the YHC men's soccer program. He has earned this opportunity and I am excited to watch Dean succeed in this well-deserved promotion."

During his time in the Enchanted Valley, Grey has helped the Mountain Lions capture six Peach Belt Conference regular-season titles, five PBC Tournament championships and six appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Grey has helped YHC, which has been ranked as No. 1 in the country during the 2014, 2018 and 2021 seasons, to a 143-29-11 record (.811 winning percentage). The Mountain Lions reached the national quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in both 2014 and 2017, capturing the Southeast Region title in 2017.

"I'm extremely honored and grateful to be given this opportunity," said Grey. "I would like to thank Director of Athletics Jennifer Rushton and administration for putting their trust and support in me. I would also like to thank my friend and mentor Mark McKeever for playing the biggest role in my development ever since I stepped foot in the door back in 2012. I'm looking forward to working towards more success on and off the field with these young men."

He also as the head coach of the JV men's soccer program for seven years.

Grey spent three seasons as an assistant for the Southwest Baptist University women's soccer program. He was responsible for assisting in all aspects of managing and developing the Bearcats to compete in Mid-America Intercollegiate Conference, which was rated the the toughest NCAA Division II conference for women's soccer in the country.

Grey, who holds a National "B" License, was also the co-head coach of the Springfield Demize in the Premier Development League during 2012. He also played two seasons in 2010 and 2011 for the Demize.

Before going to SBU, Grey spent 2008 with the New Orleans Shockers of the PDL. From 2003-07, Grey played for four years at William Woods University as a left midfielder.

A native of London, England, Grey played two years in England under the PASE Scheme, an English college soccer program.

Grey earned his bachelor's degree in sports management with a minor in business communications from William Woods and his master's degree in business administration from Southwest Baptist.

Grey is the father of twins Jackson and Ava.

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