FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two years after stepping away from the playing field following his 11-year Major League Soccer career, legendary Revs defender Jay Heaps returns as the new head coach of the New England Revolution.
Heaps, 35, will assume his duties immediately and will be presented in a formal press conference at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Gillette Stadium, which will be streamed live on revolutionsoccer.net. Further information about the press conference will follow via email to media.
“For more than a decade, Jay was as passionate, tough and tireless as any player who’s ever worn the Revolution jersey,” Revolution Investor/Operator Jonathan Kraft said. “During his Revs career, no one was more determined to win or revered for his work ethic and leadership, both on and off the field. We are excited that Jay will bring these characteristics, along with a keen intellect, to his new position as our head coach. He understands the team’s heritage and already has a connection with many of our players and fans. During the interview process, Jay impressed Robert and me with his knowledge of how to build a roster and how teams can gain and maintain a competitive advantage. We are convinced that he will work well with General Manager Mike Burns and President Brian Bilello to rebuild the Revolution into a championship-contending team.”
The sixth head coach in club history, Heaps is the second-youngest active head coach in MLS*. A Nashua, N.H., native and Longmeadow, Mass., product, he is the first former Revs player to take the club’s reins and the first New England native to coach the club.
“I am thrilled to accept this position,” Heaps said. “Throughout my playing career and with my involvement with the team after I retired, I’ve made no secret about my commitment to the Revolution, and I’m honored to be entrusted with this responsibility as head coach. I’d like to thank the Kraft family, Brian Bilello and Mike Burns for believing in me, and in the vision I have for the club as we move ahead. We have a strong base to build on, but we also have a lot of work to do as we look ahead to 2012.”
An 11-year Major League Soccer veteran and club legend, Heaps anchored the Revolution’s defense from 2001 until his retirement at the close of the 2009 season. After his retirement, Heaps remained close to the club as an ambassador and color analyst on both its television and radio broadcasts, while working in the investment banking industry.
“As we began the search for our new coach, we had a strong idea about the qualities we were looking for in our next head coach,” Revolution President Brian Bilello said. “As we went through a comprehensive search and spoke with candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, Jay stood out with his vision for the team, his desire to move the club into the future and for his positive attitude about impacting change. Coupled with everything we already knew about him personally and his competitive traits we’ve always admired and respected, he emerged as our clear favorite and number one choice as our next head coach.”
After entering MLS in 1999 and later earning MLS Rookie of the Year honors with the Miami Fusion, Heaps returned to his hometown club in June 2001. During the next nine seasons in New England, he cemented his legacy as not only a fan favorite, but also a driving leader on the field and in the locker room during the team’s run of four MLS Cup appearances (2002, 2005-07). He is one of three Revs players to start all four of the Revolution’s MLS Cup appearances and he was also a member of the Revolution squads that won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup and the 2008 SuperLiga trophies.
When he closed the book on his playing career in 2009, Heaps left the Revolution as the club’s all-time leader in games played (243), starts (238) and minutes played (21,619) and ranked fifth on the Revs’ career assist chart (26) while scoring nine goals with the Revs. Heaps also holds the distinction of being the longest-tenured Revolution player, ever.
“Every day, Jay set a positive example when he was one of our players: he gave everything he had on the field, no matter if it was a game or a training session, and then was a leader in the locker room and in the community,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. “We believe Jay is the right person to lead us as our head coach and we’re very excited to get him in and involved. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for 2012.”
At the league level, Heaps was ranked eighth all-time in MLS in games played (314), fourth in starts (299) and third in minutes played (27,363) at the time of his retirement. He closed his playing career with 17 goals and 34 assists overall.
Defined throughout his career by a rugged determination and dedicated team-first mentality, Heaps made at least 27 regular-season appearances in each of his 11 professional seasons. Despite his physical playing style and unquestionably fearless nature, Heaps missed just three games because of injury during eight-and-a-half seasons with the Revolution, making him one of the most reliable players in MLS history. Heaps started every match for which he was available in the last five years of his career, anchoring one of the most consistent defenses in MLS during his time in the league.
Giving credence to the saying that many improve with age, Heaps had perhaps the best seasons of his career as a defender in his final professional years. Honored as the Revolution’s defender of the year for the first time in 2009, Heaps was rewarded for his stellar play with a call-up to the U.S. National Team for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He went on to earn all four caps on his national team résumé during the tournament, including his international debut on July 11, 2009 against Haiti in front of his hometown crowd at Gillette Stadium.
Heaps is also a former member of the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 National Teams.
Heaps played collegiately at Duke where he won the 1998 Missouri Athletic Club Award as national player of the year. He was a three-time finalist for the Hermann Trophy, a four-time first-team All-ACC selection and four-time all-region choice. He left Duke’s program ranked third in career goals (45), fourth in career assists (37) and tied for second in career points (127). In addition to earning Soccer America’s national freshman of the year honors in 1995, Heaps also played three-and-a-half years of basketball under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke before leaving midway through his senior year to pursue his professional soccer career. He was named one of Duke’s “Top 10 Devils of the Decade” by the Duke Chronicle.
“I'm really excited about Jay becoming the head coach,” Krzyzewski said. “There's nobody who has the combination of spirit, energy, charisma and talent like he does. I loved coaching him. He was a walk-on for our basketball team because he was an All-American soccer player, but everyone on our team always followed what he had to say. I see him spreading that same type of energy, spirit, and using his charisma to build back a storied program. I wish him the best. He's an outstanding leader, and for management to have the confidence in such a young guy - that they saw a special guy - I think it'll pay off greatly.”
Heaps accrued three years of collegiate coaching experience during his MLS playing days with the Revolution. In 2004, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Boston College under Ed Kelly as the Eagles went 13-5-2 and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. He followed that with a two-year stint (2005-06) at Northeastern under Brian Ainscough in the same capacity.
Heaps and his wife, Danielle, live southwest of Boston and have three children: John F. "Jack" Heaps IV (6), Olivia (4) and Jude (6 mos.). Heaps is a member of the Board of Directors of AmericaSCORES New England, and was the Revs’ representative to the MLS Players Union when he was a player. In 2011, he was inducted into the New England Soccer Hall of Fame.
For up-to-the-minute information on the Revolution, visit the team’s official web site at revolutionsoccer.net, or follow the team on Twitter at @NERevolution, or on Facebook at facebook.com/NERevolution. For more information about Revolution tickets, special packages and 2012 season tickets, call 1-877-GET-REVS or visit revolutionsoccer.net.
New England Revolution
D.O.B.: August 2, 1976 (Nashua, N.H.)
Hometown: Longmeadow, Mass.
College: Duke University
MLS Playing Experience: 11 years (1999-2009)
MLS Honors: 1999 Rookie of the Year, MLS All-Star, four-time MLS Cup participant
U.S. National Team: Four caps (2009)
Other: New England Soccer Hall of Fame, former MLS Players Union representative
* The youngest active head coach in MLS is D.C. United’s Ben Olsen (34 yrs., 196 days). Heaps is 35 years, 105 days old. Vancouver coach Martin Rennie is 36 years, 176 days old for third place on the list. (Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau)