Eastern has announced the hiring of Ronnie Bouemboue as the new head coach of its men’s soccer team.
Bouemboue joins the Panthers after being an assistant coach for the past 10 years at three different institutions.
“I was fortunate enough to know quite a few people in the business; when it did become available, obviously it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bouemboue said when asked about how he came across the job. “I want to thank my former head coach Brian Barnett for the support and the opportunity to help me grow over at IUPUI, and to be able to be here today here at EIU is super exciting.”
His coaching career began in 2010 at his alma mater North Carolina State, where he stayed for three seasons.
After, he made his way to Peoria to join the staff of the Bradley Braves for two seasons. While there, he helped them to a Missouri Valley Conference championship win and a second-round appearance at the NCAA Tournament. He would then return to North Carolina State for a season before finally ending up at IUPUI for four years.
As a player at North Carolina State from 2005-2009, Bouemboue made the all-freshman team in 2005, was a team captain twice, made all-conference twice and was a two-time all-academic ACC player.
Bouemboue will be the 10th head coach in program history after Kiki Lara stepped down to take the head coach position at his alma mater, Incarnate Word. Lara coached the Panthers for five seasons with an overall record of 20-55-13 and three Summit League tournament appearances
“Super excited for some great time. We’re in some stable times right now, and I look forward to make as many contributions as I can to not only the soccer program, but the athletics department as well,” Bouemboue said.
Bouemboue said his No. 1 goal for the program is to be very competitive in every game the program plays. He said this means positioning themselves during the regular season to be playing in the postseason because “anything can happen” in the postseason.
“My job is to make sure we don’t lose focus, in that regard,” Bouemboue said. “To make sure we are taking those steps to, essentially, with the ultimate goal is for everybody to be in a place over the next couple of years. For me, for sure, it’s going to take a little time within the next couple of years to be able to lift that conference championship we all want.”
Bouemboue’s vision for the program moving forward is obvious: Be competitive and reach the Summit League tournament. But he said without a crystal ball, there is no way he can promise it, but he does expect his team to be playing in the conference championship within the next four or five years.
“That’s the big goal again. Are we putting ourselves in a position to be able to (win a conference championship) in five years, and I hope we’re doing that on a consistent basis over the next couple of years,” he said.
Bouemboue said people would describe him as a demanding, caring and challenging head coach.
“At the end of the day for me, especially in the field that I work in, it’s much more than just a game,” Bouemboue said. “I was fortunate enough to be a student-athlete, to have experienced what that is at a place like (North Carolina State), and I am definitely going to take some of my experiences in that regards to be able to try to provide the experiences for guys here at EIU.”
Jose Gomez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]