(Story courtesy of Johnson & Wales (Denver) Sports Information Department)
DENVER, Colo. -- Athletic director Tom Byrnes has named Ria Denny head coach of the Johnson & Wales University women's soccer team.
Denny takes over the JWU Denver program after three seasons as the associate head coach at JWU North Miami, where this past fall she helped guide the Wildcats to their best season in program history with a record of 10-7-0. Denny helped groom first-team all-conference forward Savannah Jackson, an NAIA All-America Honorable Mention, as well as a pair of second-team all-conference selections. JWU North Miami also had four Sun Conference All-Academic student-athletes in 2018.
"We're very excited to add head coach Ria Denny to the JWU staff. During the search for a new women's soccer head coach, we found she had all the qualifications we were looking for in addition to the benefit of coming from the Johnson & Wales North Miami campus," Byrnes said of Denny, the third head coach in team history. "She understands the JWU way of doing things, the Wildcat Way. She's a tremendous addition to the JWU Denver campus and will be a great asset as we continue to grow the program and the athletic department."
Ria grew up in Miramar, Florida, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management from the University of Florida in 2008. She completed her practicum in Gainesville and also worked as a volunteer manager for the UF soccer team and camp counselor for the Gator Soccer Academy. She went on to earn her NSCAA Goalkeeping Diploma Level 3 in February 2017, followed by her US Soccer National "C" Coaching license. In May of 2018 Denny earned her master's degree in Sport and Exercise Science from Ohio University.
"I'm so happy to be here in Colorado and be part of the JWU Denver staff. I cherish the last three years I spent at JWU North Miami and am so glad I get to remain with the Johnson & Wales family," Denny said. "I can't wait to get started and build on the successes that the women's soccer program has had here."
Denny's prior coaching experience also includes four years with the Florida Youth Soccer Association's Olympic Development Program (Auburndale, Fla.), six years with Coral Springs United (Coral Springs, Fla.), four years at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.) and five years at J.P. Taravella High School (Coral Springs, Fla.).
Denny takes over a JWU Denver team that went 6-8-1 overall in 2018 and 5-7-1 during its inaugural season in the SCAC. Four Wildcats earned all-conference recognition in the fall – junior Natasha Martin (first team), junior Molly Sharples (honorable mention), junior Katelyn Peters (honorable mention) and senior Emily Smith (honorable mention).