When Dave Giffard came to Richmond, he had the vision of creating a highly competitive program on a national scale. His aspirations have come to life.
Now entering his sixth season at the helm of the VCU Men’s Soccer program, Giffard has led the Rams to the NCAA Tournament two of the last three years, and four consecutive winning seasons. Prior to Giffard’s arrival, earning these accolades seemed unfeasible.
In five years with the Rams, Giffard has tallied a 49-34-18 record, including three straight years in the NSCAA Top 25. The Rams climbed as high as #8 in the country during the 2013 season.
Giffard’s players have achieved high honors as well. Fourteen players have been bestowed All-Conference honors, 12 have been named to NSCAA All-Region Teams, and two were identified as Freshman All-Americans. In addition, 12 players have been signed to professional contracts over the past five seasons.
“VCU has a good coach who is extremely beneficial to the program’s success soccer-wise,” said Portland Timbers head coach, and 2013 MLS Coach of the Year, Caleb Porter. “Even more importantly, Giffard’s quality as a person will benefit the mentoring of his student-athletes academically and as people.”
VCU has won a plethora of marquee games since Giffard’s arrival. The Rams have a 7-7-1 record against top-25 opponents over the past three seasons, with wins over perennial NCAA Tournament threats. The Rams have won away games at Maryland, Akron, Georgetown and Charlotte while beating Saint Louis and Indiana, who was coming off of a national championship in 2012, at home.
The Rams finished their 2014 campaign with a 7-8-5 record, including a 2-1 overtime thriller on the road at nationally-ranked Georgetown and taking the #1 ranked team, Notre Dame down to the wire. VCU standout Kharlton Belmar became the fifth Ram in the history of the men's soccer program to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft, as he was selected by the Portland Timbers.
In 2013, VCU put together an 11-8-2 campaign with an RPI of 30, reaching #8 in the NSCAA poll. The Rams earned a NCAA Tournament berth for the second consecutive year. The Rams had a school record eight players named to the All Atlantic 10 teams, and five players recognized all NSCAA All-Region players, which tied for the most in the country.
In 2012, VCU forward Jason Johnson was drafted in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo, marking the second highest VCU pick in any sport. He was also the first athlete in school history to sign a Generation Adidas contract.
Giffard helped VCU over the tipping point in 2012. The Rams went 12-4-5 with an RPI of 18, and reached their first NCAA Tournament since 2004, and were the #14 overall seed. Giffard was named the 2012 VA-SID Coach of the Year, Johnson was named the VA-SID and A-10 Player of the Year, and Dennis Castillo was the VA-SID Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American.
During the 2011 year, VCU went 11-9, and ascended to #16 in the NSCAA poll; the top-25 ranking marked VCU’s first since 2005. Johnson and Juan Monge Solano were named to the first team All-CAA, while Monge Solano was named the VA-SID Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-American. In addition, Jose Carlos Castillo secured a contract with Chiapas in the Mexican First Division. VCU received a NSCAA Academic Award for the 2011 season.
2010 was Giffard’s first year in Richmond. Revamping the program, VCU compiled an 8-5-6 record that included a school record ten match unbeaten streak. The turnaround was immediate, as the Black and Gold reached their first conference tournament since 2007. Five players were named to the All-CAA teams, and Lucas Paulini was named to the NSCAA All-Region Team.
Prior to his arrival at VCU, Giffard was an assistant coach at UAB, Indiana and Akron.
UAB Head Coach Mike Getman has high praise for Giffard:
“VCU hired a superb coach, and a guy who has been successful at every stop in his coaching career. More than just a coach, Giffard is a terrific person that is an excellent recruiter and an outstanding relationship builder in the community and with student-athletes. I know that VCU will achieve success under Dave.”
At Akron, Giffard coached the 2009 #1 pick in the MLS Draft, Steve Zakuani.
“Coach Giffard has a terrific ability to relate to his players, and is a very approachable guy, both on and off the soccer field,” Zakuani said. “He is a huge reason as to why I am where I am today, both in soccer and in life.”
Since 2000, Giffard has had a hand in recruiting and coaching more than 60 players who played professionally, including 12 members of Generation Adidas. He also serves as a scout for US Soccer.
Giffard received his degree in physical education from MacMurray in 1999, where he began his coaching career, and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education from UAB in 2003. He holds a USSF “B” license, as well as an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.
Giffard resides in Glen Allen, Va., with his wife, Marisa, and son, Regan.