CONCORDIA, Kansas — On Tuesday, the Cloud County Community College Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Charles Long as the new Head Coach of the T-Birds men and women's soccer teams.
Long brings over 25 years of coaching experience to Concordia between the youth, high school, junior college and four-year university levels. He replaces James Ross, who accepted the Women's Head Coach position at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in June.
"Coach Ross is a friend of mine and he called me about the position at Cloud County I immediately applied," Long said. "I know some of the people here (Eric Gilliland, John Rutherford and Jordan Altman) who have been at Garden City, talked to them, and their opinions of the school were great. There's good people here, it's a big family. I'm also familiar with the conference, so it's a good fit for me, and I really enjoy the fact Cloud County embraces international students since I'm a foreigner myself."
Long, who is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish, was born in Richmond, Virginia but spent the next 18 years living in Brazil before moving back to the United States to attend college.
His personal experience and ability to communicate effectively with players from other nationalities is a unique tool Long will be able to utilize as international student-athletes adjust to life in Concordia.
"I understand what it's like coming to America from another country and the challenges that come with that," Long said. "It's hard to adjust to a new society, new food and new traditions. I can relate to that and I'm sensitive to that with international student-athletes. My goal is to create a family environment for them as quick as possible."
Prior to Cloud County, Long spent the 2017-18 school year building start-up men and women's soccer programs at the University of Virgin Islands. He also has recent experience inside the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference after spending three seasons leading the soccer programs at Garden City Community College.
While at Garden City, Long spearheaded the turnaround of the Lady Broncbusters as they finished 8-10-1 overall in 2014 after posting a 1-14 mark the previous season.
The men's team thrived under Long as they were ranked as high as No. 13 nationally his first seasons, and advanced to the third round of the NJCAA playoffs in his second year at the helm.
"Charles brings a tremendous among of experience at the junior college level. He's coached a wide variety of student-athletes, male and female, and we feel like he brings a lot to the program," said Cloud County Athletic Director, Matt Bechard. "We think he'll build upon what Coach Ross established here in the last several years and we're excited to have him as part of our staff."
Long played professional soccer for the Oklahoma City Slickers of the American Soccer League in 1982 before a knee injury sidelined his playing career. His first coaching job came at Belhaven College from 1982-86, which is where he fell in love with the profession.
His career has included stops at the University of West Florida (1986-93), Mount Mary College (2002-04), as well as a handful of youth coaching positions across North and South America.
After spending much of his career rebuilding or starting up programs, Long said he is eager to take over the reins of two winning programs at Cloud County. The men's team posted a 14-3 overall record a season ago, while the women's team (15-5 overall) is coming off of a year that saw the T-Birds win the KJCCC West and reach the NJCAA DI Women's Soccer Championships.
"I know and trust the type of players Ross brings in and I believe I can work with them and continue to help them develop," Long said. "The key now is putting my stamp and my direction on the program and get the players to buy in to my direction."
As for his direction, Long said his focus revolves around the team working as one unit and his teams displaying high character on and off the playing surface.
"We'll want to attack out of the back, work as a unit and we'll want to develop that idea of 'team first,'" Long said. "We'll want to make sure we represent ourselves and the school well in the community. One of my goals is servant leadership and teaching athletes how to be servants, helping around campus, in the community and looking at how we can give back to Cloud to make it a better place."