Adriano Versari is the new Head Coach of United Soccer League Two (USL2) side Corpus Christi FC Sharks (CCFC).
“It brings me great pleasure to welcome Adriano Versari to the CCFC-Sharks family as the 2nd head coach in Corpus Christi FC history. The position of head coach at Corpus Christi FC has prompted significant interest and I have no doubt that in Adriano, we have one of the most impressive coaches. I am excited to work with him and I know the energy he will bring to the role will have a huge positive impact across the club and our city.” says club president Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo in a club media release.
I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Versari over the phone this afternoon to learn a little more about his background and immediate plans for the club.
Versari’s Playing Career in Italy
Originally from a small city near Florence, Italy, Versari played top-level youth soccer at academy programs affiliated with major Serie A clubs, including Fiorentina, Perugia, and Atalanta. Uniquely, his city was also able to field a regarded high school team with success in national competitions against much bigger high schools. He also had a long career playing as a forward for semi-professional clubs at various levels in Italy’s lower leagues. “After youth, I continued to play semipro with third and fourth division clubs in Italy, clubs you probably never heard of,” Versari said. He continued, “Most of them don’t exist anymore. The economic crisis of 2008 and the recent crisis in 2014 wiped out a lot of clubs. Just last year, for example, [Italy] lost almost 5000 clubs.” Versari also played futsal on the side while playing outdoors. When he finally retired, his futsal club had advanced from the lowest rung in the pyramid to the national Third Division.
A few years after his playing career ended, Versari took a local youth club’s coaching job. His youth coaching career path included work with various age groups in Italy up to U-21 and included a stop in England along the way.
Relocation to the United States Presents New Coaching Challenges
In 2008, Versari moved to the United States. His wife is from the Bryan/College Station, Texas area, and that is where they settled and remain today. After receiving his U.S.A. work visa, he returned to youth coaching, starting with the Texans Soccer Club in Houston, which had a division in College Station. He is a co-founder of Cavalry Youth Soccer in College Station, a program that has grown to over 300 boys playing at all youth soccer levels in South Texas. During his now 20-year coaching career, Versari has earned his USSF-A and UEFA-B coaching licenses. Currently, he is also working with the South Texas Olympic Development Program (ODP) and is a Grassroots and D-license coach with U.S. Soccer. Finally, he works closely with the Texas A&M Men’s Club Soccer program in the Texas University Club Soccer league.
Corpus Christi FC Presented a Great Opportunity
When Versari found out that Corpus Christi was recruiting for a new Head Coach, he reached out to the club. After multiple interviews with the owner, Dr. Okonkwo, Versari received an offer four days ago to take over the coaching reigns. “I am very thankful to [Dr. Okonkwo] and very excited about the opportunity.” Versari continued. “I followed [CCFC] for the two previous seasons that they played. I thought they did a great job. I saw them play here in College Station, and I think it is a top club. I am honored to be there, and hopefully, I am going to make them better.”
2021 Season Work for Corpus Christi FC Begins Now
Wasting no time, Coach Versari will be conducting an open tryout on December 12th, 2020, from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at John Paul II High School Field in Corpus Christi. He said that his first mission is to focus on player identification and hopes to find part of the answer locally. “The main goal is to identify players, and possibly players that are from Corpus Christi because I think it is very important to have a legacy with the city, and the only way to have a legacy is to have players from the city.”
He will start recruiting his nationwide roster virtually from College Station but will relocate to Corpus Christi as it gets closer to the 2021 season. Additionally, Versari is keen to establish his vision for the club in the future. “I want to build the spirit of the club, make sure that we are deep in the community because we depend on the fans, and we depend on the community. We want to make sure we see as many players as possible to have the best possible roster at the beginning of May.” Versari noted.
Corpus Christi FC began play in USL League Two in 2018. In 2019, the last season the club played, the Sharks finished with an 8-4-2 record, second place in the Mid South Division. The club also finished as the second-highest scoring USL2 club that year. Unfortunately, USL2 canceled the 2020 season due to the Covid 19 pandemic, though CCFC is currently preparing for the 2021 season that will begin next Spring.
More background on Corpus Christi FC’s beginning in the 2018 article below: