By Liviu Bird, Photo: Tracy Swisher
TACOMA, WA. -- After coaching in the NWAC for over two decades, Jason Prenovost has announced he will step away from coaching after winning the 2018 championship with the Tacoma CC men's soccer team. The TCC athletic director compiled a 306-97-66 record in 22 years at Tacoma and Highline College, and was on the sideline for three NWAC titles, eight division titles, and 18 years of consecutive playoff appearances.
"I have been fortunate to coach a number of great young men and soccer players during my 22 years at Highline and now Tacoma Community College," Prenovost said. "I have learned as much from them as I could hope they have learned from me. They have made me a better coach, family man and person. I couldn't have asked for a better experience and will always be grateful to Tacoma and Highline for the opportunity they gave me and the life it has provided. Ending with a championship was nice, but it will be the memories of the journey and the people that I will always cherish."
Prenovost joined Tacoma CC as its athletic director in 2014 after coaching at Highline College since 1994. The two-time NWAC Coach of the Year left behind a program that had only compiled two winning seasons in seven years before he took over and established it as one of the premier programs in the league.
"It was an easy decision to join Tacoma, but a hard choice to leave Highline," Prenovost said. "I had a great mentor in athletic director John Dunn, and a lot of friends on the staff and faculty. I had probably put together the best coaching staff, team and recruiting class in my 20 years of coaching. But to me the TCC job was just that good."
As testament to his work, Highline immediately won the 2014 NWAC title with Prenovost's former assistants Steve Mohn and Emerson de Oliveira as the new head coach and top assistant. Highline has since won another NWAC title in 2017, also with Mohn as head coach, while de Oliveira moved on to be the goalkeeper coach at University of Portland.
Prenovost unexpectedly returned to help coach at his new school during the 2016 season, as head coach Jason Gjertsen had to take a temporary step back. TCC finished 2016 as NWAC Champions. Prenovost took over as the head coach for 2017 and 2018, winning another title in 2018.
"I was given a second chance to exit on my own terms," Prenovost said. "I have always had a lot of appreciation for coach Gjertsen and wanted to give him a chance to return to his post once he was ready. It also gave me a second bite at the college coaching apple." 2018 began with Tacoma winning its first 13 games of the season for the best start in program history. Putting up a 17-1-1 record and winning all four games in the playoffs would allow Prenovost to end a fulfilling collegiate career with another NWAC championship.
Prenovost, who also spent six seasons as an assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders U-23 team and recently guided two Washington Premier FC youth teams to the US National Championships takes the most pride in the young men he has been able to coach. "They are my extended family. It's fun watching them grow into professionals, community leaders, husbands and fathers. Many of them coach now and I love running into them on the field." Prenovost continued, "To be able to finish up this journey on my own terms with this team and this result, I couldn't have asked for anything more. As always I loved coaching these guys, and they provided me with a storybook ending for which I will always be grateful."
Despite leaving the touchline, Prenovost will remain involved in his role as Tacoma CC athletic director and soccer chair for the NWAC, as well as his youth coaching at Washington Premier FC. Coach Jason Gjertsen will return to coach the Titans Men's Soccer Program for the Fall of 2019.
"Jason (Gjertsen) is ready to come back as head coach and for me focusing on being the athletic director at TCC is exciting," Prenovost added. "TCC has great leadership, an incredible staff and faculty in place and we recently built a state-of-the-art health, wellness, and athletic center. Tacoma is an innovative yet gritty, blue collar city that represents how I try to live my life. I'm a huge fan of our student athletes and believe in what we do. I look forward to working with all of our programs as we work to recruit great athletes and teach them to challenge high expectations. I want to establish TCC as a place where all of our students can chase dreams and lift trophies."