Josh Oakley returns to coach men’s soccer

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Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern midfielder Munir Sherali keeps the ball away from an opponent in a match against Purdue Fort Wayne on Sept. 3 at Lakeside Field. Eastern lost the match 1-0.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

Eastern Athletics announced the hiring of Mattoon native Josh Oakley as the new men’s soccer head coach Wednesday morning, making Oakley the 11th head coach in program history. 

The hiring comes two months after former head coach Ronnie Bouemboue stepped down to take an assistant coaching position at Northern Illinois.  

He formerly served as an assistant coach for the Panthers from 2000-02. Most recently, Oakley was the head coach of Lansing Common FC in the Midwest Premier League where he coached the team to a 10-1-3 record.  

Oakley said that the opportunity to return to the campus where he started his collegiate coaching career has thrilled him. 

“I am excited to return to the place where my collegiate coaching career started.  I have learned much on my coaching path and hope to bring a lot of those things back to Charleston with me this time.  I grew up around EIU soccer, and to have a second opportunity to be a part of this long-storied program makes me not only happy, but proud,” said Oakley.  “Thank you to Tom (Michael), Mark (Bonnstetter) and the search committee for an enjoyable process in becoming the new soccer coach.  I would especially like to thank my wife Jasmine for her support, and for believing in this endeavor just as much as I do.  There is much to be done here, and the course of action will be long-term.   Every day I will consider myself blessed to be a part of Eastern Illinois University and appreciate the opportunity to work with our gifted student-athletes.” 

Eastern Athletic Director Tom Michael said that there was a strong interest in Oakley when the position opened. 

“We are excited to welcome Josh and his wife Jasmine back to Central Illinois and to our EIU Panther Family,” said Michael.  “We had strong interest in the head coaching position for our men’s soccer position which says great things about where our program stands.  During the interview process, both on the phone and on-campus, Josh’s qualities as both a great soccer mind and a great person were evident.  With his experiences as a head coach building programs at several different levels of soccer, I’m confident that he will continue to build upon the foundation that has been put in place over the past several years here at EIU.” 

Autumn Schulz is a junior sports media relations major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]