Montgomery Academy promoted assistant coach Tate Dean to take over the duties of girls’ soccer coach at the school, replacing Joe White just months after winning the school’s ninth state championship in girls’ soccer.
“I thought he worked great with the girls,” Montgomery Academy athletic director Robert Johnson said of Dean. “He and Joe worked really well together and I thought our team was always prepared. I know Joe relied heavily on Tate for some of the fundamentals of the game. Tate seemed to have that professional coach attitude and then the fact he is coaching college soccer and teaching college classes is a good combination for a guy who has to handle the administrative side of the job.”
The four-time defending state champions defeated St. John Paul 6-1 in May to win the Class 4A-5A state championship. White, a native of London, England, had served as the head coach in 2020 and 2021 but had to step down from his position as a volunteer coach for Auburn University Montgomery’s soccer program and as coach at Montgomery Academy.
That put White’s assistant, Dean, at the top of the list for a replacement.
“Tate was the first person on my radar, for sure,” Johnson said. “That’s who Joe White recommended. Then we put out some feelers to see if we could garner more interest but so many people are not fulltime high school teachers and fulltime soccer coaches. So it’s a hard fit to find.”
Dean will become the sixth MA girls’ soccer coach in the last 14 seasons, creating an unsettling amount of turnover at a program that has reached the state tournament semifinals 11 times in that span, with one season wiped out by COVID-19 (2020) and Dean’s first season (2022) yet to be played.
“The turnover is definitely too much and we wish we could do something about that,” Johnson said. “Maybe Tate is going to be here for the next 10 years, which would be awesome, but we’ve been fortunate with great girls and great parents and the developmental program in Montgomery has been good.
“It also involves the right timing. Even if we have that person, we’d have to have a (teaching) job open up at the same time. But we are real fortunate to have some pretty good college soccer programs around town like AUM, Faulkner and Huntingdon, where we’ve been fortunate to have guys that are college coaches that can coach high school.”
Dean, like White, is a volunteer coach of the AUM men’s soccer program. In addition, he teaches at AUM.
“I’m staying at AUM this semester voluntarily, then will do MA this spring,” Dean said. “Joe recommended me to Robert and I think it’s a great step for me to carry on my coaching development. I obviously know the girls, love the girls, love the school, love the program. I’m looking forward to starting in the spring.”
Emily Barber made the state tournament an annual trek for the MA girls, starting the first of three consecutive trips to the finals in 2011 before stepping down after the 2013 season to open her own soccer academy. Stuart Bonner then coached the Eagles to three championships in four years before taking another job out of state in 2017. Carter Tuck coached a pair of championships in 2018 and 2019 before joining Barber’s organization and White made the most of his one trip to the state tournament by bringing home another championship.
Dean, who has assisted White the past two seasons, predicted there wouldn’t be a lot of difference in his coaching style.
“Joe and I worked really well as a team,” he said. “We had a lot of similar ideas, wanted a lot of the same things for the girls, and I’m just going to carry on that. It’s obviously been successful. It’s just carry on with what we were doing — high intensity, good work ethic and not conceding goals. That’s the main three things we should follow on from last year. That’s what served us so well.”