Belmont men’s soccer and Head Coach Earle Davidson have become somewhat synonymous. That is because the Vanderbilt graduate has coached the Bruins every season in the Belmont NCAA era. Committed to excellence on and off the field, Davidson enters his 15th season as the head coach at Belmont in the fall of 2011.
Davidson, the 2003 Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year, hopes to lead Belmont back to the conference tournament for the first time since 2008. Over the past two years he has helped lead Brandon Tarr to multiple individual awards, including Second Team All-Atlantic Sun in 2009 and 2010. Tarr also became the first student-athlete in the program’s history to be named A-Sun Freshman of the Year. First year Bruin Nico Olsak gave BU yet another member of the A-Sun All-Freshman Team after tying the school’s single-season record for assists, with eight.
Davidson’s tenure has also been marked by unrivaled academic achievement. Including a pair of recent Academic All-District nods from Brett Parker in 2008 and 2010, the Bruins have earned eight such honors since 2001. Marcos Cabrera also added Academic All-America honors in 2001 and 2002 under Davidson. Belmont men’s soccer annually stands atop the Atlantic Sun in Academic All-Conference honorees. Each of the past six years, the Bruins have been recognized by the NCAA in its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) Report - which identifies elite program’s in academic eligibility and retention.
In 2008 the Bruins went 11-8-2, reaching the Atlantic Sun Conference Semifinals despite no true home matches, as venerable Whitten Field hosted the 2008 Presidential Town Hall Debate. The team reached the Atlantic Sun Tournament for the sixth straight season, as Dan Meacock and Will Moorad were named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team.
2007 saw the Bruins earn a spot in the Atlantic Sun Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. The Bruins notched a signature win at nationally-ranked Furman to end the regular season. Three of Davidson’s players earned All-Atlantic Sun honors (Jay Ayres, Ian Schinelli and T.J. Brown). Ayres was named the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season before embarking on a successful run with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer.
Davidson led the Bruins to a 7-9-2 record in the 2006 season, highlighted by four non-conference home wins and three players earning All-Atlantic Sun honors (Jay Ayres, Ian Schinelli, and Eric Susewind).
In 2005, the squad saw junior J.P. Rodrigues named Defensive Player of the Year in addition to his placement on the all-conference first team. Sophomore Eric Susewind earned second team honors.
The Bruins had a breakout season in 2003 under Davidson's direction. The team improved their win total by four matches, equaling the school record for wins at the time, with nine. Belmont also qualified for postseason play for the first time since 1995.
Behind the prolific goal scoring of two-time All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection Fernando Castellanos, the Bruins went 9-7-1 and finished tied for second in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Davidson's commitment to tightening up the defensive end helped spark the team's rejuvenation. Goalkeeper Matt Renfrow, along with Carey Alexander and freshmen starters Chris Anderson and J.P. Rodrigues, led the team to a school record six shutouts while the team posted its first sub-2.00 GAA since the 1995 campaign.
"Our patience has paid off and Earle has the program on the verge of becoming a yearly contender in the Atlantic Sun," stated Director of Athletics Mike Strickland. "The route has not been easy for the men's soccer program, but Earle's enthusiasm and professionalism has been ingrained within the team. Great things are happening and we are excited about 2011."
Obviously, much of the success from the last few years can be attributed to the recent recruiting efforts. Castellanos finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Belmont history and became the first Belmont player to earn All-Atlantic Sun honors. Channing Twyner earned a spot on the 2002 A-Sun All-Freshman team. In 2004, two Bruins were named to the All-Freshman team, a first for Belmont -- Jay Ayres and Robert Fernandez. J.P. Rodrigues, Eric Susewind, Ian Schinelli, Dan Meacock and Will Moorad continued the tradition of individual achievement. Most recently, Brandon Tarr became the first Belmont player to be named A-Sun Freshman of the year in 2009, and was named Second Team All-Conference each of his first two years.
During Davidson's tenure, the Bruins have faced some of the very best teams in the nation, but they had never encountered the level of competition seen during the 2000 season. Belmont was accepted as an affiliate member of the Missouri Valley Conference just as the Valley was hitting its competitive stride. The Bruins faced three top-25 teams that season, and nearly half of the conference's 12 teams were ranked at some point while a pair of teams reached the NCAA Final Four.
Davidson’s career at Belmont began in 1995 when he joined Ronnie Littlejohn's staff. Following the 1996 season, the head coaching job came open and Davidson became the third head coach in school history. In Davidson’s first season as Belmont's head coach, he led the team to a 5-11 record that was highlighted by a 2-1 victory over the Memphis Tigers who were at the time ranked in the Top-25 in the nation.
Davidson has seen over a dozen former players begin professional soccer careers, with several of them playing for the local A-League team, the Nashville Metros/Tennessee Rhythm. Chris Van Atta has played for an indoor soccer team in Kansas City, while former assistant coach Ben Fisher has played for the Cincinnati Riverhawks. J.P. Rodrigues was drafted #1 overall by the USL Miami FC franchise in 2006 and recently signed with FC Tampa Bay. Jay Ayres has competed with both the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS and the Charleston Battery of the USL.
Born in New York City and growing up in New Jersey, Davidson played his high school soccer at Mendham High School. He graduated in 1985 and decided to come to Nashville and play collegiately at Vanderbilt University. His career at Vanderbilt culminated during his senior season when Davidson received the 1989 McDonald's Award for Outstanding Performance.
Following his collegiate playing days, Coach Davidson moved west to Salt Lake City, Utah and joined the Salt Lake Sting of the now defunct American Professional Soccer League (APSL). After playing one season out there, he returned to Nashville to begin a five-year career with the Nashville Metros, at the time a member of the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL).
Following the end of his professional career, Davidson decided to continue his passion for the game by joining the coaching ranks. His first opportunity at collegiate level coaching came immediately following his playing days at Vanderbilt when he became the women's team assistant. He served double-duty during the 1990 season, as he also assisted the VU men's team. Davidson also became the Director of Coaching for the Music City Sting Club Teams. In addition to these coaching duties, he has the honor of assisting with Tennessee's Olympic Development Program Teams.
Davidson married former Belmont women's soccer assistant coach Alexis Hyrup in May of 2003. They have two children, Griffin Hyrup (age 2), and Greenlee Jane born in March of 2011. The family resides in Nashville.