Samar AzemHead Coach
Office Phone: (864) 231-2012
Samar Azem is in her third season at the helm of the Trojan women's soccer program after being named head coach on Aug. 2, 2011.
In her second season at AU, Azem guided the Trojans to a 7-7-3 mark, and a 4-3-2 record in South Atlantic Conference play. Before postseason play, four players earned all-SAC honors, including Krystal Goss’ first team selection. Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Neipp earned her second-straight postseason accolade with a spot on the second team, as Summer Miller and Adrienne Lough joined the keeper on the squad. Lough went on to sign a professional contract with Taastrupt FC in Denmark.
Also in 2012, Azem was the head coach of 97 CESA Anderson and part of the SC ODP (Olympic Development Program) staff and 2000 girl's head coach. Later this year, Azem will work with the 95 CESA girl's team. In the offseason, Azem is in charge of the Samar Azem Anderson Soccer Academy, a successful women's soccer based camp on AU's campus, which brings in players from all across the country.
During her first season, Azem guided the Trojans to nine wins and a berth in the semifinals of the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Tournament, while earning a No. 8 ranking in the Southeast Region during the regular season. Boasting a strong defensive presence, Azem’s Trojans posted an impressive five-match South Atlantic Conference win streak in October. With their seventh shutout of the 2011 campaign coming in the non-conference win past Valdosta State, the Trojans set a new school record for clean sheets, eclipsing the previous record of six which was set in 2001 and equaled in 2003.
Making its first-ever appearance in the SAC Tournament semifinals, Anderson’s upset bid fell just shy as fifth-ranked and top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne held off the No. four seed Trojans, 2-0.
Under Azem’s tutelage, the Trojans saw Neipp earn First-Team All-SAC accolades and All-Tournament honors, with four other players earning second-team All-SAC honors, while Joelle Purinton was also named to the All-SAC Tournament Team.
Azem worked with every facet of the women’s soccer programs at Presbyterian College, Mercer University and Brevard College, while focusing on working with the goalkeepers. During her stint with the Blue Hose, Azem helped guide PC to their most successful season during their transition to NCAA Division I, as the Blue Hose claimed five wins in 2010, with the PC net-minders earning five shutouts on the season and producing the strongest goals-against-average (1.99 GAA) by a PC team during the transition.
“I want to thank Nancy Simpson for this wonderful opportunity to be a part of Anderson University and lead the women’s soccer program,” said Azem when she was hired. “Anderson is a great place with a unique and enriching environment. There is a great deal of energy and progress within the institution and athletic department for our program to continue developing within.”
While at Presbyterian, Azem took the lead in designing, creating and implementing PC’s first-ever winter camp and worked with supporters and community groups to raise funds for facility upgrades and to boost awareness in the community.
Prior to arriving at Presbyterian, Azem served as the top assistant coach for two seasons at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. The Bears earned the program's first-ever regular- season Atlantic Sun Conference championship and posted their first regional ranking in school history during her first season on the bench, during which Azem guided the goalkeepers and was also heavily engaged with every area of the program. She coached and trained goalkeeper Jean Worts, whose goals-against-average ranked 11th in the nation among Division I goalkeepers, while the overall defense ranked sixth nationally.
During Azem’s tenure, Mercer players garnered league Defensive Player of the Year accolades, as well as Freshman of the Year honors and also earned a total of 11 all-conference awards.
Prior to joining the staff at Mercer, Azem served as an assistant coach at Brevard College, working with recruiting, team travel arrangements, scouting and game-day preparations. She also developed strength and conditioning programs for the Tornado players in addition to assisting in the compliance department.
Azem brings extensive club and camp coaching experience to Anderson. While at Mercer, she trained goalkeepers at the Central Georgia Soccer Association and the Macon Soccer Club, two of Central Georgia’s largest soccer clubs. Azem has trained and evaluated young players at Carolina Elite Soccer Association and has also organized and overseen camp and clinic sessions with a number of top Georgia clubs in the Atlanta region.
During her collegiate playing career at Campbell University, Azem helped lead the Fighting Camels to the A-Sun conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2004 and the following season she was named to the all-Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Team for her performance in goal as she helped the Camels return to the conference tournament title match. Azem also garnered A-Sun all-academic recognition and earned the squad’s Coaches Award twice (2005-06).
The Jos, Nigeria, native competed at the Hillcrest School where she was a three-sport standout. During her final three years at Hillcrest, Azem was the team captain for the soccer, basketball and volleyball squads. She also earned the soccer team's MVP award in 2001 and was voted as the Senior Class President in 2003.
She has also been involved in community endeavors as she was part of the Mashiah Foundation. This foundation volunteered with the National Honor Society to create an HIV/AIDS awareness program for high schools across Northern Nigeria. Twelve high schools implemented the plan and over 1,000 guests attended the seminar.
Azem graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and a minor in psychology from Campbell in 2007 and earned her master’s degree in education from Mercer in 2010.
2011-13 - Anderson
2010 – Presbyterian
2008-10 – Mercer
2007-08 – Brevard
2003-07 – Campbell University
Ally BalesAssistant Coach
Office Phone: (864) 231-2012
Bales joins the coaching staff in 2013 after a year under Alex Van der Sluijs at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio where she helped guide the team to a 9-6-4 overall record. At Defiance, she wore two hats, one as the assistant women’s soccer coach and the other and the Learning Commons Assistant for Structured Study Programs where she assisted the school’s peer mentors and helped student-athletes away from the field and in the classroom. The New Berlin, Wisc. native also earned her master of arts in education with sport coaching concentration.
“We are excited to have Ally join our staff and our family,” Azem said. “She comes from a very strong playing career at Dallas Baptist and was incredibly successful as an athlete in the Heartland Conference. She understands what it takes to establish a perennially successful NCAA Division II program and is eager to help us build towards that. She’s very passionate about the game and a very hard worker. She will be involved in the various aspects of the program from the onset.”
As a player, Bales was a standout at Dallas Baptist University where she was named to the Heartland all-conference team in her first three seasons. Bales was also listed on the Daktrontics all-south central region team in 2010, while also earning spots on the NCCAA all-region team and All-American teams after the 2008 and 2010 seasons. Bales also excelled in the classroom, as she earned a spot on the Dean’s List in 2010 and made the Honor Roll in 2009. Bales graduated from Dallas Baptist with a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and minored in Spanish. She is a member of Sigma Delta Pi, a Spanish Honor Society.
Stephanie AaronVolunteer Assistant Coach
Stephanie Aaron enters her second season under Head Coach Samar Azem, as she joined the program in the spring of 2012.
Aaron began her playing career at Appalachian State before transferring to Presbyterian College where she played a season under Azem. During her time with the Blue Hose, the defender appeared in 53 matches (36 starts) and notched a goal, along with seven career assists from the backline.
Aaron graduated from PC in 2011 with a bachelor of science, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and history. She was able to graduate cum lade and was named to the Dean’s List seven times in her time at PC.
In her time away from Trojan Stadium, Aaron works as a coach at Carolina Elite Soccer Academy in Greenville, South Carolina and also volunteers at the Dr. James A. Henderson Undergraduate Cancer Research Center and the Anderson Free Clinic.
Azem on Aaron: ““It’s always great when you can have a former player come back on staff. Stephanie is not only a very intelligent person and former athlete, but she’s also incredibly passionate and brings with her a strong soccer resume out of CESA. Stephanie understands all that and has already contributed greatly to the development of our student athletes academically and athletically within our expectations. She’s dedicated to each individual and to this program, her passion, knowledge, and experience will help continue to develop our student athletes.”