Leo Chappel begins his third season at the helm of the Columbia men's soccer program in 2008 and has instilled an energy and passion to a team competing alongside some of the best college soccer teams in the country.
Chappel has upgraded Columbia's schedule to face some of the nation's elite programs, including Virginia, UC Santa Barbara, Marquette and DePaul. Leading a young team into 2008, he has brought in 16 student-athletes in his first two recruiting classes, including a number of potential impact players.
Chappel, who served as assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara from 2001-05, was the 2004 National Soccer Coaches Association of America West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. In that season, the Gauchos finished 21-2-2 and reached the NCAA championship game.
"Leo Chappel is exactly what we were seeking in a head coach," said Dr. M. Dianne Murphy. "He has proven success at the highest levels of collegiate soccer. He brings energy, enthusiasm and integrity as a leader. I have the utmost confidence Leo will reestablish Columbia men's soccer as one of the best in the nation."
Chappel is only the Lions' fifth head coach since 1957, when soccer was reinstituted as a varsity program at Columbia after a 41-year hiatus. In February 2006, he replaced Dieter Ficken, who retired a month prior after 27 years as Columbia's head coach.
Chappel was instrumental in recruiting five UCSB classes ranked among the nation's top 20 by Soccer America and College Soccer News, including several members of the UC Santa Barbara team that won the 2006 National Championship.
In 2004, UCSB held the No. 1-ranking in the nation for most of the season before falling to Indiana in a game decided by penalty kicks in double overtime. The game was reminiscent of the culmination of Columbia soccer's greatest season; in 1983, a previously undefeated Lion team fell to Indiana, 1-0, in double overtime in the NCAA final.
College Soccer News has selected Chappel among the top 10 assistant coaches in the nation seven times in his career. Prior to UCSB, he spent three seasons as an assistant at UNC-Charlotte. He was also an assistant at his alma mater, Ohio Wesleyan, from 1996 to 1998, and coached at Wake Forest for a year. Both Charlotte and Wake Forest were nationally ranked during his tenure.
A Connecticut native who attended Suffield Academy, Chappel is a 1991 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan with a bachelor of arts in physical education.