2008 Sunshine State Confernce Coach of the Year Tony Amato enters into his seventh season with the Tars after leading his program through a milestone season. Amato led the Tars to their first Sunshine State Conference regular season championship, as well as the program's first ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament after years of building-up his program, and his hard work both on and off the field has helped create one of Rollins' most respectable sports teams.
One of the best players to ever take the pitch for Rollins, Amato continues to make his mark as a coach, leading the women’s team to a record of 66-35-9 (.640) in his first six years at the helm. He stands as the all-time wins leader in Rollins women’s soccer history, and he became the first to reach 50 wins on October 26, 2007 in a 2-1 victory over Lynn University. Since taking over the program in 2003, Amato has built a strong foundation from which the program can grow.
In his first season as Head Coach, the Tars finished with a school record 13 wins and a fourth place finish in the Sunshine State Conference. The following year Amato led Rollins to its first appearance in the SSC Tournament championship game thanks to a monumental shootout victory over national powerhouse Barry in the tournament semi-finals. The 2006 squad went on an unprecedented early-season run and were in the NSCAA national rankings for three weeks, reaching as high as No. 23. The Tars have posted winning records in SSC play in four of Amato's five seasons.
In the program's monumental 2008 season, Amato produced his first two All-Americans as Dana Merrill was named to the Daktronics All-America and NCAA Div. II All-America teams, with Lindsay Giblin joining her on the NCAA Div. II All-America squad. 12 of Amato's players have earned All-South Region honors and 42 have earned All-SSC selections, led by two-time SSC Player of the Year Lindsay Giblin.
Not only has Amato used his experience as an offensive threat in his playing days to guide forwards like Giblin and Laura Guild to success, but his teams have featured some of the best defenses in the SSC. Dana Merrill earned the program's first SSC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008, while freshman goalkeeper Michelle Dillingham was given the first team All-SSC nod as a freshman. Goalkeepers Stina Lykke Petersen and Francesca Nicoloso have earned All-SSC honors and set program records under his watch, and in 2008, Dillingham broke the goals per game average as she only let in 0.55 goals per game to set the new single season program record.
Amato is no stranger to the SSC or Cahall-Sandspur Field. He graduated from Rollins in 2000, where he was a four year letterman and three-time All-SSC selection. Amato currently ranks among the Rollins career leaders in goals (sixth - 41), assists (seventh - 26) and points (fifth - 108). During the 1999 season he led the conference in scoring and was named the SSC Player of the Year, becoming the first Rollins player to receive that honor. Amato also was a first team All-South Region selection and the Rollins Male Athlete of the Year. In the summer of 2007, he was inducted to the SSC Hall of Fame, becoming the third Tars soccer player to earn the honor, joining legends John Smith (’97) and Chris Schmitt (’75).
In addition to being a standout on the field, Amato was also an outstanding student and garnered second team GTE Academic All-America honors as a senior. He was also named the Rollins Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the SSC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year. He graduated with a 3.71 GPA as an Area Studies major.
He earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Central Florida and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a health fitness instructor. Amato also has his NSCAA Advanced National Coaching license and his United States Soccer Federation “B” license.