UNC-Asheville Athletic Director Janet Cone named Assistant Coach Clifton Bush the Head Coach of the program after former Head Coach Lindsay Vera left the university to return to Houston to coach the Texas Southern University women’s program. Vera hired Bush as her assistant in August 2018, who she so happened to have coached against for many years, and who she also so happened to beat out when the head coaching position became available in March 2018. Bush also served as the Director of Women’s Soccer in the spring of 2019.
According to a press release from the UNC-Asheville website, “Having studied management and organizational leadership and young adult development, Clifton brings a unique educational foundation and approach to our women’s soccer program,” Cone said. “He also has extensive coaching experience at all levels from youth to Olympic Development. Since arriving on campus, he has earned the respect and trust of our present student-athletes as well. His communication style, knowledge of the game and passion to improve each day will be important to our future success. I look forward to introducing Clifton to all of our Bulldogs fans and friends in the near future.”
During his lone season as an assistant, Bush led the Bulldogs to victories over the Citadel, Hampton, and Winthrop. He also led the program to four postseason player awards that included All-state 2nd team honors and Big South All-Academic team in addition to a Sportsmanship award.
“Creating a high-performance environment with players that embody a growth mindset is so important to me, so I am excited to lead a group at UNC Asheville that are driven by positive values and determination,” Bush said. “I have had the pleasure to really get to know Janet R. Cone and (Senior Associate Athletics Director) Terri Brne and the rest of the UNC Asheville community and I want to thank them for their support and confidence. I am excited to get to work and be part of the Bulldog Family.”
In addition to his new head coaching role, Bush has an impressive resume that extends from Head Women’s Soccer Coach of Treasure Valley Community College to Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League as a Match Scout. “A resume that can be mirrored for any young African-American coach who wishes to one day become a college head coach,” said BSMA Chairman Justin Reid. “Clifton has paid his dues and this opportunity is long overdue. He could have become frustrated after many job submissions without call backs for head coaching roles and given up, but he persevered. I just hope that he pays it forward because it took multiple endorsements from soccer people from all walks of life to land him this opportunity.”
“In the past, when a black coach landed a position, the narrative had been “I am in now, so I am good”. If you look around the NCAA, among the black head coaches, you can count on one hand how many of these coaches have at least one black assistant coach although there are thousands of qualified black assistants available. If we are ever going to grow in the black soccer community this narrative has to change and it must be, “let me research at a qualified black coach who can join my staff”. Other ethnic groups do it and we shouldn’t be afraid too either.
Despite Bush’s appointment, college soccer programs still have a very low percentage of black head coaches despite the high percentage of black players in college. The BSMA will continue the fight to fulfill its mission of combating this problem in hopes of more stories like Clifton’s in the future.