Athletic Director Scott Stricklin announced announced the hiring of new Florida soccer head coach Tony Amato on Monday. Amato will replace former head coach Becky Burleigh who coached the program since it’s beginning in 1995. Amato is the second head coach for the Gators’ soccer program.
Stricklin said that Amato’s definition of success expands beyond the pitch. His experience as both a player and coach can help players maximize their individual skills and abilities. Moreover, he can help them stay active in their community while earning high academic achievements.
“Tony Amato’s been a proven and consistent winner at each of the three programs he’s led. Each of those programs enjoyed a significant rise in success under Tony’s watch, including consistent NCAA bids,” Stricklin said via Florida Gators Soccer. “His plan for Gators soccer completely aligns with our vision to succeed at the highest SEC and national levels.”
Stricklin added that Amato growing and coaching in Florida help him understand that Florida is a special place.
How it started
Amato played for Rollins and earned the school’s first Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 1999. Prior to that, he also earned All-SSC honors in 1997 and 1998. On top of that, he claimed 1999 All-South Region honors and was Rollins Student-Athlete of the Year. He was the 2000 CoSIDA Academic All-America At-Large second team.
Amato is among Rollins’ career top 10 with goals 41 goals, 26 assists, and 108 points.
Amato began his career at Rollins assisting with the women’s team from 2001-02. He became the women’s head coach in 2003. Amato helped Rollins earn their first three United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award recognitions (2007, 2008, 2009). He won the Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and 2009.
Stephen F. Austin
SFA won the 2011 and 2012 titles. The team earned Southland Conference titles, claiming the league’s NCAA automatic berth by winning the conference tournament.
Amato earned Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors both 2011 and 2012.
Amato took over the Arizona Wildcats in 2013, and the rest is history.
The 2013 Wildcats won their first winning season (9-7-4) in seven campaigns. The Wildcats earned a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth, advancing to the second round. The 2015 Wildcats extended their tournament run to the NCAA Round of 16 as their 14 wins stands as the program’s season wins record. NCAA Tournament berths were also earned in 2017, ’18 and ’19, with Arizona reaching the second round each year, via Florida Gators Soccer. In his eight seasons at Arizona, seven players earned a total of 13 All-Pac 12 Conference honors. Nine picked up 15 Pac-12 All-Academic honors. He posted a record of 88-53-17 with the Wildcats, becoming Arizona’s all-time wins leader early in the 2018 campaign.
Prior to Amato’s arrival for the 2013 campaign, Arizona last appeared in the coaches top 25 on Oct. 3, 2006. Nearly nine years later, the Wildcats returned to the top 25 on Sept. 22, 2015 and held the No. 19 position on that season’s final poll. The Wildcats also excelled in the classroom, with the team earning recognition as a United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award winner in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Amato Begin Tenure at Florida
In a statement Amato thanked thank Scott Stricklin and the entire search committee for trusting him to lead Florida Soccer to future success.
“The University of Florida is a special place and I am extremely excited for this opportunity. I have admired Florida Soccer and the program Becky Burleigh built since I started coaching at Rollins College,” he said.
Amato added that he is honored to follow in Burleigh’s footsteps. He will work tirelessly to make the administration, alumni, and fans proud of the Gator team. Amato’s goal is to build off the players’ strengths and put them in positions for success.