FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution has added three members to its soccer operations staff, hiring a primary assistant coach, strength and conditioning coach and an equipment manager.
Joining head coach Jay Heaps as his primary assistant is Jay Miller, a long-time coach and talent evaluator at U.S. Soccer and at the collegiate levels, while health and fitness expert – and former Revolution defender – Nick Downing has been hired as the team’s first strength and conditioning coach. Additionally, Scott Emmens has been hired as the team’s equipment manager.
Miller brings more than 30 years of coaching and player evaluation experience to Heaps’ staff, most notably with U.S. Soccer’s youth national team programs and at the collegiate levels at the University of Tampa and University of South Florida.
“I’m very excited to work with Jay to build a season-long, tactical approach that improves us each week,” Heaps said. “I knew I wanted to bring a highly experienced, tactically-minded coach, and in Jay, he’s a coach who’s coached at – and succeeded at – every level of the game with a wide range of players. I believe he’ll provide a solid foundation for our team, both on the practice field and in games.”
Downing played two seasons with the Revolution after the Revs drafted him as a Project-40 player out of Maryland in 2001. After retiring from professional soccer in 2004, he became certified as a personal trainer and began a new career in 2005 as a strength and conditioning coach.
“Nick is the perfect person to be our first strength and conditioning coach,” Heaps said. “With his combination of high-level playing experience and his fitness expertise, he knows what soccer players go through physically and what they need to do to succeed on the field throughout the long season. His approach and his work with our players off the field will be vital to our success this year.”
Miller began his professional coaching career 1978 at Tampa, where he led the Spartans to the 1981 Division II national championship and a runner-up finish in 1983. In 1987, Miller moved to the University of South Florida, where he remained through the 1993 season.
Throughout his collegiate coaching days, Miller served in various coaching capacities with U.S. Soccer and at international competitions, including the head coach for the U.S. Under-18 squad in 1981 and 1986; the head coach for the 1985 World University Games squad and assistant coach for the 1987 team; and assistant coach for the U.S. Under-23s in 1987.
In 1994, Miller moved to U.S. Soccer on a full-time capacity, serving as the head coach for the Under-17 National Team and assistant coach for the Under-20 squad. He held both positions through the end of the 1997 world championship cycles for both teams, before moving to the U.S. National Team where he served as a scout ahead of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
In addition to coaching, Miller was active across several departments of U.S. Soccer, working as a National Coaching Coordinator until 2002; assisting with the FIFA Technical Reports for various international competitions (including the 1994 World Cup, 1996 Olympic Games and the Women’s World Cup); and serving as the Chairman of the National Coaching Committee and the assistant director of the federation’s soccer schools.
Miller moved away from full-time coaching in 1998, before returning in 2001 to the Atlanta Fire United Soccer Association in Atlanta, Ga., where he was the Executive Director of Coaches until 2010. In addition to his club responsibilities, Miller was the head coach of several age levels in the Region 3 Olympic Development Program beginning in 2005. In 2006, Miller co-founded the Red Bull National League, which was a national-level tournament for the country’s top Under-17 teams.
In 2008, Miller began working with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Soccer as a sports envoy for the game of soccer, traveling to Morocco (2008), Bolivia (2009) and most recently, Thailand (2010). Miller continues to serve as a national staff instructor for U.S. Soccer’s coaching schools.
Miller earned both his undergraduate degree in health and physical education (1970) and master’s of education (1978) from East Stroudsburg University.
Downing joined the Revolution in 2001 after the club drafted him in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft following a stand-out three-year career at Maryland, where he was a national player of the year finalist as a junior. He made 17 appearances between 2001 and 2002, before he spent the 2003 season on loan to the Portland Timbers, then of the USL A-League (now USL PRO). In 2004, he played his final professional season with the Charleston Battery (USL A-League), before retiring at the end of the season.
Following his playing career, Downing transitioned to a fitness professional, earning certifications as a certified personal trainer from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, plus additional certifications from USA Track & Field, Functional Movement Systems and Kettlebell Concepts.
He has worked in the metro Boston area since 2005 as a fitness professional, most recently at Pure Performance Training in Needham, Mass. His clients have included professional soccer, hockey and football players, collegiate athletes, marathoners and tri-athletes. Downing specializes in sport-specific training, including soccer-specific skill development.
Downing is a former member of the U.S. Soccer youth national team program, playing on both the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 teams, serving as Miller’s captain at the 1997 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Egypt. Before attending Maryland, Downing was the 1998 Gatorade national player of the year in boy’s soccer.
Emmens comes to the Revolution with a background in equipment management and retail. He spent the 2010 season with the Chicago Red Stars, formerly of Women’s Professional Soccer, as the team’s equipment and practice facility manager before the team suspended operations at the conclusion of the season.
Following his stint with the Red Stars, Emmens re-located to Seattle, where he gained experience in the retail industry, most recently at Schmetzer’s Sporthaus, a chain of stores specializing in soccer-specific gear and merchandise.
Emmens, a Connecticut native, earned his undergraduate degree in sports management from Endicott College in 2009. During his college studies, Emmens worked as an on-site camp administrator with SoccerPlus Camps in Hartford, Conn., for both overnight and day camps, assisting with the sessions’ operations.
The Revolution’s search process for a second assistant coach is still on-going.