James WhitakerMen's Soccer Coach
Office Phone: 803-807-5247
James Whitaker is entering his 3rd season at the helm of the CIU men's soccer program and has been responsible for building the CIU program from the ground up. Under his leadership, CIU has steadily improved, with a program record of 18-17-3 in 2 seasons including 8 wins in the inaugural 2012 season and 10 wins this past year in 2013.
Coach Whitaker came to Columbia International University after a highly successful stint as head coach at Clearwater Christian College in Clearwater, Florida where he led the men’s soccer team to two National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) D2 National Championships. He was twice named National Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and also by the NCCAA.
His goal for the men's soccer program is to build a championship-level program made up of Christ-focused young men who are committed to using soccer as a tool to glorify God. This is reflected in the men's soccer mission statement: "The mission of the men's soccer program at Columbia International University is to make an impact for Christ while competing with excellence at the highest level by using soccer as a tool to minister to others and to develop relationships where we can challenge each other in our walk with Christ.”
Following college, Coach Whitaker played professional soccer for the South Carolina Shamrocks of the USL D3 Pro League. Coach Whitaker holds the Premier Diploma from the NSCAA. He also earned his master's degree in health and exercise science from Furman University and his master's degree in educational leadership and undergraduate degree in math education from Bob Jones University.
In addition to his coaching duties at CIU, he also serves as assistant athletic director. James and his wife Beth live in Columbia and have 5 children: Jillian, Madeline, Davis, Ellison, and Jackson
College Coaching Record: 66 wins / 42 losses / 12 ties
NCCAA II National Champions: 2009, 2010
NSCAA Premier Diploma
NSCAA Advance National Diploma
NSCAA National Diploma
NCCAA National Coach of the Year: 2009, 2010
NSCAA National Coach of the Year: 2009, 2010
Jeff CrewsAssistant Coach
Jeff Crews is entering his 3rd season on the men’s soccer coaching staff at CIU after moving to Columbia to be a part of the program’s inaugural season. Jeff previously served as assistant coach under Coach Whitaker at Clearwater Christian College in 2011, leading the team to a 3rd place finish nationally. In addition, he served as the boys soccer coach at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, Florida.
Jeff also had a highly successful playing career, serving as team captain for the Clearwater men's soccer team when they won the NCCAA D2 National Championship in 2009 and 2010. During his senior season, he was named 1st Team All-American and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCCAA National Tournament. He also earned All-Region honors his final 2 seasons at CCC, and was named NCCAA Scholar Athlete in 2009.
After his junior season, Jeff interned with the MLS Philadelphia Union as Assistant Team Administrator. While with the Union, Jeff worked hand-in-hand with the Union players and helped run all of the administrative details for the first year of the Philadelphia Union Academy Team.
Jeff is originally from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated in 2011 with a degree in accounting. Jeff has also completed his NSCAA National Diploma with intentions to pursue further coaching education. As assistant coach at CIU, he will serve as technical director as well as help coordinate recruiting for the team. Jeff lives in Columbia with his wife Richelle after being recently married.
Tyler SpraulAssistant Coach
Tyler Spraul enters his 3rd season on the men’s soccer coaching staff at CIU after joining the program for the inaugural season. Tyler comes to CIU following a stellar playing career at Clearwater Christian College where he played for Coach Whitaker and was inducted into the CCC Hall of Fame as the most decorated soccer player in program history. Tyler served as team captain for the Clearwater men's soccer team as they won the NCCAA D2 National Championship in 2009 and 2010, scoring the game winning goal in sudden death overtime to win the first championship. During his senior season, he was named NCCAA National Player of the Year. He was also named 1st Team All-American in his junior and senior seasons and was a 2nd team All-American as a sophomore. He was also selected as the Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the 2010 NCCAA National Tournament, and was a 2-time Scholar Athlete as well.
Tyler is originally from Waupaca, Wisconsin and graduated in 2011 with a pre-med degree. As assistant coach at CIU, Tyler will oversee much of the team's offensive attack and will help to coordinate all set pieces and restarts. Tyler lives in Columbia with his wife Whitney after being recently married.
EJ RobertsGoalkeeper Coach
EJ Roberts serves the CIU men's soccer staff as the team's goalkeeper trainer. EJ owns and operates the Midlands Goalkeeper Training Academy here in Columbia. He also serves as assistant coach and goalkeeper coach at Lexington High School.
At the club level, EJ trains goalkeepers for Liverpool Football Club America in Lexington and previously with South Carolina United FC as a staff coach and goalkeeper coach, coaching both Junior Academy and Select level teams.
EJ played soccer in college at both USC-Upstate and Lander University. He also played 2 seasons with the Pike's Peak Stampede in the Premier Development League.
Jeremy GilbertTeam Manager