May 19, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – Since FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian came to Florida State he has made it a point to surround himself with some of America’s most qualified assistant coaches. Last year his staff consisted of four coaches who had been head coaches at previous colleges and had combined for 47 years of coaching experience. With the hiring of Eric Bell as the Seminoles newest assistant coach, Krikorian stays true to his commitment to bring highly qualified assistants to Tallahassee.
“I want people that have leadership qualities and are able to step right up, grab the reins and lead our group,” said Krikorian. “Eric is capable of all that and will help continue to build our program. We are thrilled to have him on board. He brings a lot of different ideas to the table. He will be a great compliment to the staff we have. I have great respect for him.”
“I think this is not only a good opportunity for me but my family as well,” said Bell. “We looked at this as a family and wanted to make sure this was best for everybody involved. I just came from a great program at Illinois and I was attracted to coming to another school with a commitment to excellence and Florida State has that. The facilities, the staff and the support staff are unbelievable here.”
Bell comes to Tallahassee after spending the last four years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at one of the top soccer programs in the Big 10. He is the reigning NSCAA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year. For the past decade Bell has been an assistant and head coach in both the men’s and women’s side of the college game. He is a member of the coaching staff for Region II of the Olympic Development Program and was the state team head coach for the ODP in Minnesota in 2001. He replaces Mick Statham who accepted the head coaching position at Lafayette College.
While at Illinois the team had tremendous success on the field and on the recruiting trail with Bell on the staff. After going 9-11-1 in his first year with the Illini, the team went 16-4-2 the next season and posted a 44-17-7 record overall the next three years. In 2004 the team advanced to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for first time in school history and the Fighting Illini advanced to three straight NCAA Tournaments with Bell on staff.
In his role as recruiting coordinator Bell attracted some of the nation’s top talent to Champaign. His 2005 recruiting class was ranked 23rd by SoccerBuzz and his 2006 class is once again among the top 25 with six signees among the top 200 in the nation. Bell recruited some of the nation’s and the world’s top players to Illinois in his four years. Freshman Emily Zurrer played for the Canadian U-20 National Team at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Mexico this year. The defender was named MVP of the 2004 CONCACAF qualifying tournament and two years ago she led Canada to the CONCACAF title and a berth in the 2004 World Championships. Freshman midfielder Marti Desjarlais, brought to Champaign during Bell’s tenure as recruiting coordinator, was a three-time NSCAA high school All-American and the only high school All-American on the 2005 team to earn that honor for three straight years.
“He’s been a vital part of this program’s success, and there are two areas where he’s really impacted the program,” Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said in a release after Bell was named regional assistant coach of the year. “He’s taken our recruiting to the next level, both organizationally and as a talent evaluator, and he has a great tactical mind, which has helped our staff to teach our team to solve problems tactically.”
Bell will fit right in with Krikorian’s goals for the team in the classroom as well. As the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania the team compiled a GPA of 3.43 in 2000, the third-highest team GPA in Division II that year. Last season senior Christen Karniski was named an NSCAA/adidas first team scholar All-American at Illinois.
“My previous coaching jobs have allowed me to experience many things and expand my knowledge in different roles,” said Bell. “I hope those experiences will help me take this program to the next level.”
Before coming to Illinois, Bell spent 2001 as an assistant coach for Minnesota’s women’s soccer team. He organized and directed the soccer booster club for the Golden Gopher program in addition to his regular coaching and recruiting duties. Bell was also involved with the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association as the Olympic Development Program state team head coach in 2001. Prior to heading to Minnesota, Bell was the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the 2000 season.
From 1997-2000, Bell was an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Ashland University in Ohio. While there, he helped the women’s team to three consecutive conference titles from 1997-99 and to the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 1998.
Bell is a United States Soccer Federation `A’ Licensed coach and a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He attended the College of Wooster where he earned a B.A. in 1992. He led the soccer team to two NCAA Division III tournament appearances in 1989 and 1990 and to a North Coast Athletic Conference title in 1989. He was voted the team’s best offensive player following the 1991 season. Bell and his wife, April, were married in May of 2001. They have two children, Malena, 4, and Cameron, 2.