JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In preparation for the 2018 Jacksonville University men's soccer season, Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz announced the hiring of former NCAA Division I Goalkeeper Thomas Buckner as the team's new assistant coach. Buckner brings a wealth of playing a coaching experience at a variety of levels with him to the River City, where he will assist Ruiz with coaching and recruiting duties.
"I am excited to be joining the JU men's soccer staff," Buckner said. "I believe in the potential of the program and the ability of the group of players already here and I hope we can achieve prolonged success together."
I'm very happy to announce Tom as a new member of our coaching staff," Ruiz said. "It was a very long process and I believe we found someone that will be a great addition to our team culture. Tom will bring a lot of energy and passion to our team, and will have the ability to make an immediate impact on the growth of our players."
Buckner comes to Jacksonville after serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Hartwick College, in Oneonta, New York. While at Hartwick, he assisted with the team's day-to-day operations, and was the head of goalkeeping training.
Prior to his tenure in the Empire State, Buckner spend two seasons at Western Illinois University as a graduate assistant coach, while working to earn a master's degree in sports management with a 3.9 GPA. He helped the Leathernecks become Summit League semi-finalists in 2016 and 17, and pick up seven Summit League All-Conference awards, eight Player of the Week accolades and a First-Team Academic All-American selection.
Buckner spent summer 2017 as an assistant coach with the Myrtle Beach Mutiny of the Premier Development League, helping the team post a 10-2-3 record in their first campaign, and win a South East Division Title. The Mutiny were voted the Top New Franchise of 2017, while their goalkeeper, working directly under Buckner, was a one-time PDL National Player of the Week.
His coaching experience began in 2016, when he served as the head coach of the Hunter's Creek U19 Boys Global Premier Soccer Club in Orlando, Fla. He also served as the club's Head of Media Relations and Camps during his time.
A native of England, Buckner was a four-year letterwinner at Hartwick from 2011-15, and served as the starting goalkeeper during the entirety of his college career. A team captain his senior year, he helped the Hawks capture the 2014 Sun Belt Regular Season and Tournament Championships, and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. He was a Sun Belt Second-Team All-Conference selection in 20015, and earned a pair of Defensive Player of the Week honors. Buckner earned a bachelor's degree of arts in journalism from Hartwick in 2015.
Jacksonville posted a 6-10-1 mark in 2017, advancing to its second consecutive ASUN Championship Final.