From Player To Coach: Lis-Simmons Returns

SUNY New Paltz alumnus Jamal Lis-Simmons was named the new assistant coach of the Men’s Soccer team on Aug. 31, returning to New Paltz after graduating in spring 2012.

Lis-Simmons, who played for both the Men’s Soccer team in fall 2012 and Basketball team in 2011-12, was the clear choice of Men’s Soccer Head Coach Gene Ventriglia. Ventriglia said he contacted Director of Athletics Stuart Robinson to have Lis-Simmons as the assistant coach.

“Jamal was very much my choice to serve in the assistant coach capacity,” Ventiglia said. “I made this known to Stuart Robinson, our Director of Athletics, and he proceeded with interviews and the hiring process.”

Lis-Simmons has known Ventriglia since the 1990s, and said the offer to be an assistant coach was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“When he officially asked me I was thrilled at the opportunity,” Lis-Simmons said. “I couldn’t turn it down.”

Lis-Simmons first met Ventriglia when he played for him on a club team and also for Highland High School’s soccer team. After knowing each other for over a decade, Ventriglia said they understand each other very well, and that his leadership is key to Lis-Simmons’ success.

“Jamal has a knack for commanding respect from the other players and that aura of immediately commanding the respect of his players,” Ventriglia said. “He is an outstanding leader and has a great understanding of the game.”

Lis-Simmons is not new to the coaching scene, as he coached boys high school soccer from 2004-06 at his alma mater Highland High School. During his time at Higland, Lis-Simmons recorded a 40-14-1 record.

Before beginning his athletic and academic journey at SUNY New Paltz, Lis-Simmons attended Div. I  SUNY Albany. At Albany, he was nominated for America East Conference Rookie of the Year. Lis-Simmons then returned to New Paltz in 2010 with two years of eligibility left to play soccer.

Lis-Simmons graduated with accolades from the SUNYAC and the annual New Paltz Athletic Ceremony. He was honored with the All-State SUNYAC Second team and was voted MVP and Leadership Wall honoree.

Lis-Simmons will be assisting Ventriglia at the team’s daily practices and with home and away games. He will also serve as an extra set of eyes on the field for Ventriglia.

“Jamal is much more than a past athlete here at New Paltz continuing in a coaching situation,” Ventriglia said. “I am very close to this young man, having coached him as a budding soccer star late in the 90s.”