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D-B alum LaGuardia to coach Tribe boys soccer

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 14, 2019 at 6:41 PM

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett hopes to keep its boys soccer program flying high with Monday's announcement that Tom LaGuardia is the Tribe’s new coach.

LaGuardia, a 1992 D-B graduate, previously served as the coach at Sullivan South and North Buncombe in Weaverville, North Carolina. LaGuardia led the Rebels to their first Region 1-AAA championship in 2005, a season highlighted by wins over D-B, Science Hill and Tennessee High.

His three years at North Buncombe represented the most successful span in school history. LaGuardia also served four years with the Clemson Soccer Academy in South Carolina. In March 2018, he joined the semi-pro Tri-Cities Otters as the team's goalkeeper coach, working alongside Science Hill coach David Strickland.

LaGuardia said he’s humbled to have the opportunity to lead the D-B program.

"Frankly, if it had been any other high school, I wouldn't have considered it," LaGuardia said. "There's something special about Dobyns-Bennett and being able to come back as a Dobyns-Bennett alum."

He takes over a vacancy created when Blake Rutherford resigned on Oct. 31, 2018, to pursue a job opportunity outside coaching and teaching. The Indians went 84-18-6 in five seasons under Rutherford, including 19-1-2 in 2018 when they swept Big 7 Conference, District 1-AAA and Region 1-AAA titles on their way to a state tournament berth.

While some of the key players from that squad have graduated, LaGuardia likes what he sees with those returning. Among them are Jack Perry, last season's Big 7 midfielder of the year, and Jacob Park, the conference goalkeeper of the year.

"There is a tremendous amount of talent back on this roster," LaGuardia said. "There were some key pieces who were lost from last year, but watching the agility session on Day 1, I'm happy with what I see."

LaGuardia was a defender on the 1991 Tribe team that lost 2-1 to Christian Brothers in the state championship. The Indians were one of the top eight teams in the state all four years of his high school career, including his senior season when he played keeper.

At the next level, LaGuardia redshirted a freshman season at Clemson before transferring to St. John's in New York where he was part of the 1993 Big East Conference championship team.

"We are excited to welcome Coach LaGuardia back to Dobyns-Bennett," D-B athletic director Larry Shively said in a release. "Coach LaGuardia has a track record of developing and sustaining a successful soccer program at two different high schools. His attention to culture, detail and a complete vision of soccer in Kingsport were apparent in the interview process. I know that he is very passionate about D-B soccer and we look forward to him serving our student athletes."

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