VISALIA — Elliott Hord, a former collegiate and professional player, has been hired as the women's soccer coach at College of the Sequoias.
This will be the Fresno native's first head coaching job after concluding his professional playing career in 2019 with stints as a defender for the Sacramento Republic and Hartford Athletic of the United Soccer League.
"I'm very excited to come back to the Valley and be a part of creating a new environment and re-energizing the program," Hord said. "It's really a great opportunity."
The 29-year-old Hord replaces Ryan Rowland-Smith, who stepped down as the Giants' women's soccer coach in order to spend more time with his family and running his painting contracting business.
Hord has run his own private training academy in Sacramento since 2019.
"Elliott came highly recommended by a lot of different people," Sequoias Athletics Director Brent Davis said. "We did a thorough interview process, and Elliott's vision for the program and his willingness to sink his teeth into our community and into recruiting and training really meshed with what we wanted. I think he's going to do a phenomenal job. The girls who come here to play will really like playing for him."
Hord takes over a Giants program that went 7-9-4 overall and 1-7-2 in the Central Valley Conference in 2019. Sequoias didn't field a team in 2020 because of Covid-19 safety precautions.
Hord landed the position at an opportune time with local high schools in the middle of a season delayed from the winter to spring because of the pandemic.
Hord has already hit the recruiting trail. He hopes to bring in players from all around Tulare County.
"It's ironic it worked out the way it has," Hord said. "I am lucky there are still games going on at the high school level. It's a silver lining in all this madness."
Hord is eager to get to know the area's high school and club coaches and players.
"The key is getting involved in the community and building relationships and showing these players that there's interest out there," Hord said. "And that this is a program these players can call their own and not have to leave their backyard."
Davis described Hord as a players' coach who is well connected in the college coaching world. Hord's ability to take an individualized approach to training and fit it within a team concept was an attractive trait to Davis.
"We're really into development here," Davis said. "I think he's going to benefit any girl who comes to play for us. He's willing to work to find places for these girls to play after they are done at COS."
Hord made his mark on central San Joaquin Valley soccer during his time as a four-year varsity player at Fresno's Bullard High, and with the Clovis-based club Cal Odyssey Academy.
Hord was an All-County Metro Athletic Conference selection as a senior in 2010, and a Fresno Bee All-Star in 2009 when he helped the Knights win the Central Section Division I title and finish ranked No. 22 nationally by ESPN.
As a club player, he was selected to the U.S. Soccer National Development Academy U18 team.
Hord moved on to play in college at NCAA Division I UC Davis, making 67 career appearances for the Aggies between 2010-2013.
After graduating from UC Davis in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Hord headed to Europe to play professionally. He spent five months playing for Yxhults in Sweden before returning home to play for the Fresno Fuego.
Hord signed with the Sacramento Republic in 2016 and played three seasons in the USL before retiring.
He earned a Master's degree in Physical Education, Teaching and Coaching from Fresno Pacific in 2020.
"I'm looking forward to getting to work with players who need a little more development, and using my connections and experiences to help create opportunities for these players," Hord said. "I made it out of the Valley. So can you, if you put in the work and have the right mentality. These things are possible."
Hord said he plans to bring a new energy and mindset to the program, while helping his student-athletes bridge the gap between playing at a community college and a four-year university.
"This is going to be a place where you can really come and benefit and improve as a player and as a person. That's my goal," Hord said. "I want players who will commit themselves to being successful on and off the field."