Derek Leader enters his third year with GCU after being named the fourth head coach of the Grand Canyon women's soccer program history on Feb. 10, 2016.
In 2017, Leader and the Lopes finished 6-13-2 in their first season of full Division I eligibility. GCU earned the No. 6 seed in the WAC Tournament and defeated #3 UTRGV for a spot in the tournament semifinals. The Lopes then fell to No. 2 Utah Valley to end the season. The pair of McKenzie Cook and Blakely Fraasch were named First Team All-WAC.
In his first year, Leader led the Lopes to a 7-9-2 record and finished third in the WAC with a 3-2-2 record. His team had six shutouts on the season and out-shot opponents 248-168. In 2016 the Lopes were second in attendance in the WAC. His inaugural recruiting class features ten student athletes, five of which are out of state and two international.
Leader brings over 20 years of coaching experience to the Lopes, including four years as an NCAA Division I head coach and 12 years at the IMG Soccer Academy.
Leader joins the Lopes from Georgia State where he spent the last three seasons. Under his direction, Leader improved the Panthers’ RPI from 235 in 2013 to 95 in 2015. The Panthers were ranked in the top-10 in the Southern Region, one of only two non-SEC teams on the list. Leader also coached the first two NSCAA All-South Region players in program history. In just their second year in the Sun Belt Conference, the Panthers finished as runner-up to No. 22 ranked South Alabama in the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Championship.
As assistant director at the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Leader made his mark in the soccer community where he also served as women’s soccer head coach from 1996-2008. He was inducted into the IMG Soccer Academy Hall of Fame in 2010.
Leader coached the 2005 MLS Rookie of the Year, Michael Parkhurst, and the 2013 NWSL Rookie of the Year, Erika Tymrak among many other future professional soccer players, during his time with IMG. During his tenure in Bradenton, he also coached local semi-pro teams, serving as an assistant coach for the Bradenton Academics PDL men's team from 2001-04 and as head coach for the Bradenton Athletics W-League women's team from 2004-08.
Prior to taking the head coach position at Georgia State, Leader was the associate head coach at SMU for four years. Leader assisted head coach, and current GCU men’s assistant, Brent Erwin to four-straight Conference USA Tournament appearances, including two double-digit win totals in his last two seasons with the Mustangs.
Leader is a graduate of Akron in 1995 and is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and the United States Soccer Coaches Organization. He also holds several coaching licenses that include a United States Soccer Federation National "A" License, an NSCAA Premier License and an International Coaching Diploma from the Victoria Coaching Institute in British Columbia, Canada.
Leader is a native of Stow, Ohio, and his wife, Kim, hails from Millen, Ga. The couple has a daughter named Jacqueline.