(14:00 Editor’s note: Per the club’s press release, Lesesne is officially an employee of the Charleston Battery. — dc)
Longtime College of Charleston assistant coach Troy Lesesne, a CofC alumni and former player for the Charleston Battery, has joined the club as a full-time assistant for 2014 via the Battery’s affiliation with Vancouver Whitecaps.
The move gives the Battery a full-time assistant coach for the first time since current San Jose Earthquakes coach Mark Watson held the job during the 2009 season, and is believed to mark the first instance since the January 2013 agreement between the leagues of an MLS club hiring an assistant coach to serve with its partner in USL PRO.
“From the very beginning, when I was talking to Vancouver about our affiliation, which goes back over a year now, one of the things they always said they would like would be to have some sort of presence in Charleston on the technical side,” said Andrew Bell, Charleston Battery club president. “Either by sending one of their coaches down to us, or bringing someone on to our staff. So we’ve known that this was a possibility for a long time.”
It also marks a major upgrade for a Battery technical staff that has consisted of general manager and head coach Mike Anhaeuser, with part-time assistance from Dusty Hudock and some pitch-in help from head athletic trainer Bobby Weisenberger. Hudock works Battery training sessions at Blackbaud, and attends “selected games,” but doesn’t travel with the team. That leaves Bell, Anhaeuser and Weisenberger to cover a long list of duties.
“First and foremost, I’m with the Charleston Battery trying to help them in any way that they need help, in any way that coach asks me to help,” Lesesne said. “That’s vital to understand.”
But the reason behind his hiring relates directly to the development of the players who come south from Vancouver.
“The players that the Whitecaps have invested in that are on loan here, they want to provide a resource for them while they’re in town, to maybe get some extra sessions, and maybe look at the game analytically (in) different ways,” Lesesne said. “And also let the Whitecaps know who’s performing well, who’s not performing well. Why they’re not performing well. That’s a big part of it.”
Lesesne, a former S.C. high school Player of the Year from West Columbia, spent four years as a midfielder at the College of Charleston, where he was named to the NSCAA/adidas All-American and All-South first team. He signed with the Battery out of college and played 38 professional games in a two-year career that ended in 2006. As Ralph Lundy Jr.’s top assistant, Lesesne was deeply involved in all the details of running a successful mid-major college program.
In addition to those duties, Lesesne worked at Lundy’s successful summer soccer camps, founded (with Lundy) a morning training program called the Total Futebol School, and coached the U-14 team in the S.C. United Battery Academy.
Lesesne said he didn’t know who would be replacing him at the College, but confirmed that he would be giving up his participation with the Total Futebol School. Lesesne will continue as coach of the Academy U-14s, but his role will change because he won’t be able to make as many games.
Lesesne made his first appearance on the Battery sideline on Tuesday during the 7-0 win over Georgia Southern, and Anhaeuser confirmed Wednesday that Lesesne had joined the club as an assistant. The signing became public on Wednesday, but CHSSoccer.net agreed to hold off on reporting the news until the clubs announced the arrangement.
Lesesne will work with the Battery through the end of the 2014 season, but will spend about two months with Vancouver in the offseason.
“To me it was just an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Lesesne said. “To be involved in the pro game and to learn what Coach Anhaeuser does. And then I was in Vancouver last week to learn what they’re doing. It’s just a tremendous learning curve for me. And I’m going to try to take advantage of that opportunity in any way possible.”
Bell said the Whitecaps initially considered sending down a coach from Vancouver, but eventually suggested Lesesne. “Troy coaches the Academy U-14s, but but obviously he was working for Coach Lundy, who is one of our strongest advocates and a great partner for us. So it wouldn’t be something where we would tell (Vancouver), ‘Well, Troy would be great,’ because we wouldn’t want to potentially hurt College of Charleston’s program.”
Asked if the arrangement was unprecedented in the 13-month history of the MLS/USL PRO agreement, Bell said he believed it was.
“I think there are several elements in our affiliation that are unique, and much more forward-thinking than some of the other partnerships that have taken place. And that’s one of the things that really attracted us to Vancouver from the get-go.
“I just think that Vancouver is willing to look at this much more than just an opportunity to lend three or four of their first team players. They really are looking to develop a partnership with someone on a longterm basis and try to bring more players through. You’re already seeing that with a number of players that have come to us from Vancouver, and also the recommendations that they’ve been able to give us with some of the other players that hopefully we’ll be signing. “
The announcement looked like great news to USL President Tim Holt.
“We feel very positive about this development. We envisioned the partnership between our teams and those in Major League Soccer to bring clubs closely together, and for the Battery to add an assistant coach who will also provide reports to Vancouver we believe will offer a great benefit for all parties,” Holt said.
“We are very pleased with how things have progressed this offseason, in particular the collaboration we’re seeing between front offices from partner clubs. We’re also very excited to watching some of the talented young players who have joined our teams on loan, and are looking forward to seeing the LA Galaxy II take the field this Saturday. We expect it will be a fascinating season for that organization as the partnership between the two leagues grows stronger over the course of this year.”
Lundy said the College was having great success in its search for Lesesne’s replacement. “I’ve been bombarded with tremendous people. But, boy, do they have great big shoes to fill.
“What Troy is amazing at is understanding me. He’ll be so tremendous at understanding and helping Auggie. He’s got the ability to read you and what you do and what you’re inclined to do and what you’re good at and what your perspective is. His intuitive ability is beyond belief.
“Personally, I think both organizations (in Charleston and Vancouver) are out of sight. They’re gaining an extreme talent. He’s entering a new arena with the pro game, which is different. But buddy, he can handle it.”
TOP IMAGE: Troy Lesesne speaks with Battery player and former College of Charleston star Zach Prince after the Battery’s 4-1 win over the College on March 13. Lesesne joined the Battery as an assistant coach for the team’s game against Georgia Southern on March 18, and sent an email to CofC alumni and friends on March 19 announcing that he was leaving his job at the College. Dan Conover photos.