Dec. 17, 2011
FORT WORTH -- TCU director of intercollegiate athletics Chris Del Conte has announced the hiring of Florida State associate head coach Eric Bell as the Horned Frogs' new head women's soccer coach.
Bell, who will be just the third women's soccer coach in TCU history, has subsequently announced that Ryan Higginbotham will be an assistant coach with the Horned Frogs. Higginbotham, from the Dallas Texans Soccer Club, is a National Youth Girls Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
"We are very excited to welcome Eric Bell and Ryan Higginbotham to the TCU family," Del Conte said. "Eric has done an unbelievable job at Florida State and is a rising star in the collegiate soccer coaching ranks. Ryan is very well respected locally with club soccer and is a great first hire by Eric.
"Eric's recruiting efforts have been instrumental in the success of a Florida State program that's a fixture on the national scene. With the momentum we have at TCU, the facility upgrades that include the Jane Justin Field House at Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium, Big 12 membership and the great city of Fort Worth, we have a lot to offer prospective student-athletes. Eric is a perfect fit to guide our women's soccer program."
Bell spent the last six seasons with the Seminoles. After arriving as an assistant coach in 2006, he was promoted to associate head coach in 2008. Bell was Florida State's recruiting coordinator his entire tenure in Tallahassee.
As recruiting coordinator, Bell made school history as the 2007 class earned its highest national ranking. The Seminoles were recognized by Soccer Buzz with the nation's second-best recruiting class, while grabbing the top spot in the Southeast Region. At the time, both rankings were the highest garnered in program history. Of the 11 freshmen, five ranked in the top 150 by Soccer Buzz while Erin McNulty and Sanna Talonen ranked among the nation's top international recruits.
In 2008, Bell once again made school history as Soccer Buzz awarded Florida State with the top recruiting class in the nation. The publication ranked six freshmen in the top 40 with five receiving PARADE All-America honors. Tiffany McCarty was recognized for her outstanding season, becoming the first Seminole in school history to earn ACC Freshman of the Year honors. The accolades continued to pour in as Tori Huster and Casey Short joined McCarty as Freshman All-Americans.
The 2009 class was ranked as the fourth-best recruiting class in the Atlantic Coast Conference by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
"I'm thrilled to be the new coach at TCU," Bell said. "I would like to thank Chris Del Conte and the rest of the search committee for affording me this wonderful opportunity. I believe everything is in place to take TCU to the next level of women's intercollegiate soccer. I am very excited and can't wait to get started."
Since his arrival in Tallahassee, Bell helped guide the Seminoles to three College Cup appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2011, including a berth in the school's first national championship game in 2007. In his time at FSU, the Seminoles compiled an overall record of 106-31-13, highlight by the 2011 ACC tournament title. Bell has coached the 2007 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, a pair of national Freshmen of the Year, 18 All-Americans, the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year, 2007 and 2009 ACC Offensive Players of the Year and a handful of student-athletes who have competed internationally.
In overseeing the defensive scheme, Bell led the Seminoles to a sub-1.00 goals against average in five of his six seasons en route to a 0.83 GAA during that span. The Seminole backline has averaged over 12 shutouts a season under Bell, reaching double digits all six years while posting a school-record 14 shutouts in both 2006 and 2008. In 2008, FSU set the school record for the fewest goals allowed (15) and the lowest goals against average (0.63). In 2010, the Seminoles gave up a league-low five goals during conference play, while leading the ACC in shutouts with 13.
Prior to his arrival in Tallahassee, Bell spent four years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Illinois. In 2005, he was named NSCAA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year while working at one of the top soccer programs in the Big Ten.
With Bell on staff at Illinois, the Fighting Illini had tremendous success on the field and on the recruiting trail. After going 9-11-1 in 2002, his first year with the Illini, the team went 16-4-2 the very next season en route to posting an overall record of 44-17-7 from 2003-05. During that span, the Fighting Illini advanced to three straight NCAA Tournaments. In 2004, Illinois made school history advancing to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
As recruiting coordinator, Bell attracted some of the nation's top talent to Champaign. His 2005 recruiting class was ranked 23rd by Soccer Buzz and his 2006 class was ranked ninth with six signees among the top 200 in the nation.
Bell also served as head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2000 in addition to being an assistant at the University of Illinois and Ashland University in Ohio.
Bell is a United States Soccer Federation A Licensed coach and a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He attended the College of Wooster where he earned a B.A. in 1992. As a player, he led his team to two NCAA Division III tournament appearances in 1989 and 1990 and to a North Coast Athletic Conference title in 1989. He was voted the team's best offensive player following the 1991 season.
Bell and his wife, April, were married in May 2001. They have two children: Malena and Cameron.