When Darren Ambrose was first offered the job as coach of the Penn women's soccer team, he wasn't sure he wanted it. Ambrose had been an assistant at Florida State for 18 months when he was offered the Quakers head job over Memorial Day weekend. "When the job was advertised, I wasn't sure I would do it, because I was settling down with my family in Tallahassee," Ambrose said. Soon enough, though, the Seminoles deputy decided to take the job, and began the ordeal of moving his wife and 2 1/2-month-old daughter from northern Florida to West Philadelphia, where he will inherit a Quakers squad coming off its best season ever. Ambrose is excited about the prospects. "I know they're successful. I know they're a good team. I know they've got high expectations," he said. "[It]'s a great situation for any coach to come into." The Quakers made their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance with a tough, 1-0 first-round loss to James Madison last fall. "I'm aware of what happened last year, and it wasn't just a one-year deal," Ambrose said. "I know that they've been very successful the last couple of years." It was only a "one-year deal" for 1999 Penn coach Andy Nelson, who spent only one season at the Quakers' helm before leaving to take the same job at Stanford on March 9. Ambrose will be an NCAA head coach for the first time, but it's not as though he hasn't had offers in the past. Ambrose turned down the head job at Tulane before he signed on for his stint at Florida State. "At the time, [the Tulane job] wasn't what I was looking for," Ambrose said. "Also quality of life, I thought Tallahassee was a lot better place to raise a family than New Orleans. "Plus, I got to take over as an assistant at probably one of the biggest programs in the country," he added. Interestingly enough, Ambrose, who will be the fourth head coach in Penn's history, is leaving a Florida State staff run by the second head coach in Penn's history, Patrick Baker. "It's funny, [Baker] called me to take the job at Wesleyan, which he left when he took the job [at Penn]," Ambrose said. So it's not as if he hasn't had offers -- or winning experience. Ambrose has been an assistant coach at UConn -- where he served under the legendary coach Joe Morrone -- and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., where he helped his team to a conference championship and two NCAA berths. On most of those teams, Ambrose's primary responsibility has been to coach the goalkeepers, the position at which he excelled in college, but he has experience "in a little bit of everything." "I've been fortunate enough to have been around some extremely qualified, excellent coaches, and I'm looking forward to putting those things into practice," Ambrose said. But he will surely draw on his success as a player at Division II South Carolina-Spartanburg, where he was both National Player of the Year and a GTE Academic All-American as a senior. "I like to think that those awards represent what I try to bring to my team," Ambrose said. "You are a student-athlete, with student being the first word of that term. Don't shortchange yourself in either area." Ambrose didn't want to shortchange himself in knowledge of his players, so he began studying some tapes of his new team at his home in Florida's panhandle in June. The early verdicts were positive. "They're a very competitive team," he said. "There are some things that I liked. I think that they could've won that tournament game." Perhaps Ambrose will help the Quakers do just that the next time aroundComments powered by Disqus
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