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Lenoir-Rhyne Football Hires Doug Socha as New Head Coach

Doug Socha has been named the 24th head football coach of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate announced. Socha comes to Hickory from Keiser University (Florida) where he served as the head football coach for six years, accumulating a 55-15 record on his way to winning the NAIA National Championship in 2023.

“I am beyond excited to welcome Doug Socha and his family to Hickory to take over the reins of our storied football program,” said Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate. “Coach Socha has won at every level of football and brings proven leadership and a record of success from his time in the NFL, Division I, high school, and, most recently, Keiser University. He has developed Keiser into a national powerhouse and understands the importance of building a championship culture that develops student-athletes on and off the field.”

Socha, who started the football program at Keiser, led the Seahawks to their first national championship in 2023 with a 12-2 record. After the title-winning season, Socha was named the 2023 AFCA NAIA Coach of the Year.  He was also named The Sun Conference Coach of the Year four times during his six-year tenure at Keiser.

During his time in West Palm Beach, Socha led the program to a .786 winning percentage and a .916 winning percentage in The Sun Conference. Socha led the Seahawks to five straight conference titles and appeared in the NAIA playoffs five consecutive seasons, including a semifinal appearance in 2020 and back-to-back national championship appearances in 2022 and 2023.

“My family and I are thrilled to join the LR family and the Hickory Community,” said Socha. “I would like to thank President Whitt, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate, and the screening committee for showing me how truly special Lenoir-Rhyne is from its academic excellence, strong alumni, and championship expectations.”

Socha’s team produced impressive numbers on both sides of the ball over the past five seasons, including an average of 402.8 yards per game, 218.3 rushing yards per game, 184.6 passing yards per game, and 35.6 points per game. His 2023 Seahawks team registered a school-record 3,169 yards on the ground with 47 rushing touchdowns. The defense held its opponents to 18.5 points per game, 90.3 rushing yards per game, and 28.5% completion rate on third-down conversions. The Seahawks were ranked number one in NAIA in forced fumbles and number two in sacks and fumble recoveries.

During his tenure with the Seahawks, Socha coached 24 All-America honorees and 76 all-conference players. He also coached 14 conference major award winners. Socha also led the team with excellence off the field during his time with Keiser. During his six years, the Seahawks received 123 Academic All-Conference awards, 59 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 19 CSC Academic All-District selections, and five CSC Academic All-Americans.

“Doug joins the Bear family with a remarkable track record of winning and a deep understanding of what it takes to build a championship program. We are confident that he will not only lead our team to victory on the field, but also inspire our students and uphold the legacy of excellence that defines Lenoir-Rhyne,” said University President Dr. Fred Whitt. “Beyond Doug’s impressive record on the field, it’s his commitment to developing well-rounded individuals that truly sets him apart. His focus on academic achievement, personal growth, and community engagement perfectly aligns with LR’s core values. We believe that under his leadership, our student-athletes will not only excel on the gridiron, but also become leaders and role models both on and off the field.”

Before Keiser, Socha served as an NFL offensive quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills in the 2016 season and assisted with coaching the running backs and scout team defense. In that role, he worked directly under Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn while being responsible for the organization and distribution of the offensive game plan.

At the high school level, Socha served as a coach for nearly a decade. At Oxbridge Academy, Socha launched the program in 2012 and served as head coach for three years, leading the ThunderWolves to a 28-6 record, two independent championships and one district title. He was recognized as the 2015 Sun-Sentinel Coach of the Year and the 2014 Gold Coast Coach of the Year.

While at American Heritage School, Socha served as the athletic director and head football coach of the school from 2010-12. In his two seasons, he led the Stallions to a 22-5 record and a state championship title, a state runner-up, and two district titles. Prior to becoming the head coach at the American Heritage School, Socha was the program’s offensive coordinator for four seasons. In the position, he was responsible for the No. 1 ranked offense in Florida in 2007. During his time as offensive coordinator, the program won the district championship in all four years, including two state championships.

In addition to his most recent college coaching success, Socha was the recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach at the University of Buffalo. From 2000-05, Socha oversaw the overall planning and implementation of recruiting efforts while also being responsible for the development of the wide receiver group. He got his start in collegiate coaching at the College of the Canyons as a defensive backs coach in 1998.

Socha is a graduate of California State University-Northridge where he received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. Prior to graduating, he played football at Los Angeles Valley College and Mesa State as a defensive back. As a renowned speaker, Socha has presented at multiple events, including the Glazier and Nike Coach of the Year Clinics.

Socha and his wife, Carrie, are proud parents of six beautiful children, including two who have graduated college and have joined the coaching ranks. Their son Cade is currently the offensive analyst at University of Hawaii and their daughter Camryn is an assistant women’s soccer coach at Nova Southeastern. They have two high school age daughters, Ana and Monica, who enjoy playing soccer; and two elementary age sons, Kolbe and Gabriel, who are avid hockey players.

“I would like to extend my deep appreciation to President Whitt, the screening committee, and to Dr. Kurt Patberg with Mammoth Sports Consulting for their investment in our search process,” Pate added. “Their relentless effort and unwavering commitment to finding the absolute best leader and coach to continue to position our student-athletes and team for success was extraordinary.”

Socha will be introduced at a public ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 12 p.m. in Belk Centrum on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus. There will be a reception after the press conference. Both the press conference and reception are open to the public. The event will also be live-streamed on LRBears.com.

Socha File:

2024-Present: Lenoir-Rhyne University  - Head Coach
2017-2023: Keiser University  – Head Coach
2016: Buffalo Bills  – Offensive Quality Control
2012-2015: Oxbridge Academy  – Head Football Coach
2010-2012: American Heritage School  – Head Football Coach/Athletics Director
2006-2010: American Heritage School  – Offensive Coordinator
2001-2005: University of Buffalo  – Recruiting Coordinator/Wide Receivers
2000: University of Buffalo  – Defensive Graduate Assistant/Inside Linebackers
1998-2000: College of the Canyons  – Defensive Backs Coach
1997: Grand Junction High School  – Defensive Backs Coach
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH SOCHA

“Lenoir-Rhyne has hired a great new Head Coach in Doug Socha. Doug’s ability to build a winning culture and his deep knowledge of the game are only surpassed by the impact he has on the lives of the young men he coaches. I am certain that Doug will usher in a sustained period of competitive excellence.”
Matt Rhule-Head Football Coach
Nebraska Football

“Doug and I worked together at the Buffalo Bills and in my current role with the Dolphins I have been able to watch him build this program from the ground up to National Champions! He is an excellent X and O coach but more importantly will build a Winning Culture, and he is a great person.”
David Lee- Quarterback Consultant
Miami Dolphins

“Having worked side by side with Coach Socha at the beginning of his time at KU and watching how he interacted with the campus community, led our staff, and developed the players into men was awesome. He is the BEST CULTURE BUILDER in College football.”
Roy Istvan-Asst. Offensive Line Coach
Philadelphia Eagles (Former Keiser Offensive Coordinator)

“I have known Coach Socha for 20+ years from his time recruiting South Florida as a college coach in the early 2000’s, and then competing with him in the HS ranks. Watching what he has done at both the HS level and building Keiser into a National Champion has been awesome to watch. Great hire!”
Jack Daniels-2x State Champion Coach
Cardinal Newman HS

“Doug Socha is a proven winner on the field, and an inspiring leader off it. His dedication to culture is what makes him and his teams so special.”
Timmy Chang-Head Football Coach
Hawaii Football