February 6, 2020
Prince Alum, Jonathan Leathers, Returns to Prince After Professional Soccer Career
As soccer season launches for Spring 2020, the Prince Avenue Christian School Varsity Boys team has welcomed a new coach. And while Coach Jonathan Leathers is new to this team, he is not new to Prince Avenue.
Coach Leathers graduated from Prince in 2004. Ironically, Prince did not yet have a soccer program when he was a student, but he found other ways through club teams to excel at the sport. Subsequently, Coach Leathers went on to play soccer at Furman University where he was a three-time All-Conference first team player and one-time second team All-American. He was also named Furman Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. After graduating from Furman, Coach Leathers was drafted 25th overall by the Kansas City Wizards. During his professional career, he also played with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Charlotte Eagles.
After finishing his professional career, Coach Leathers trained with Youth with A Mission and traveled as a lay missionary to Singapore, New Zealand, and the Philippines. He worked with local churches to share the Gospel while conducting soccer clinics. Since returning from overseas, Coach Leathers has been personal soccer trainer and coach at Grace Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Now, as one of only two Prince alums to have played professional sports, Coach Leathers is bringing his expertise home. “I played soccer as long as I could. After retiring, I was interested in being closer to family as they helped me achieve my goals of playing at the highest level. Once I found out Prince had a soccer program, I wanted to use my experiences to help build the program as much as I can.”
And building the program does not just include soccer skills. Coach Leathers recognizes that he is building players. “My coaching style is very intentional. I value each player as he is, but try to journey with him into excellence. The process may be shorter for some given prior experience, but every player is equally valuable and helps comprise the effectiveness of the team.”
Athletic Director Richard Ricketts explains there is special value when an alumnus returns to Prince to coach or teach. “Alumni know and understand our school culture and why our mission statement is so important. But it is especially rewarding to see people you taught and helped become Godly leaders that can now do the same with the next generation. That’s what it’s all about.”