Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:
Returning to where she excelled as a player, EmiriaSalzmann takes over the Sonoma State women’s soccer program after building Santa Rosa Junior College into a national powerhouse.
Salzmann replaces Luke Oberkirch, the winningest women’s soccer coach in school history, who was not brought back after 16 seasons. Salzmann played and later coached under Oberkirch at Sonoma State.
“I had the privilege of playing for the greatest coaches and teams at Sonoma State, and it is such an honor to assume the head coaching position of a program that changed the course of my life,” she said. “I plan to give back to the university and the women’s soccer program what it once gave to me.”
The coaching change follows the unusual move by Sonoma State officials in April to open the position with Oberkirch still leading the program. A search committee recommended Salzmann to Athletic Director Bill Fusco. Salzmann’s salary will be $65,000.
“We are very pleased to have Emiria Salzmann as our new head coach. She is an outstanding leader who has made Santa Rosa Junior College a force throughout the state in community college soccer,” Fusco said. “As a former SSU student-athlete, she understands and will continue the rich tradition of our women’s soccer program.”
Oberkirch, coming off the first back-to-back losing seasons in his tenure, had said he would apply to keep his job. Oberkirch had said he proved able to lead a successful program, including four NCAA Division II tournament appearances with a national runners-up finish in 1998, and seven first-place finishes in two conferences.
Santa Rosa Junior College officials now must search for a new coach. Salzmann led the Bear Cubs over four seasons, winning Big 8 Conference titles each campaign and reaching the state finals twice including last year’s runner-up finish.
“The search for Emiria’s replacement will begin immediately,” said Athletic Director Jim Forkum. “With a number of sophomores returning from last year’s team and an equally strong recruiting class ready to join them, Bear Cub fans can expect another year of successful and exciting women’s soccer.”
A Santa Rosa native, Salzmann has a deep Empire playing and coaching pedigree.
After playing at Piner High, she played for Santa Rosa Junior College in 1992 and the next three seasons at Sonoma State. Salzmann was an All-West Region selection as a junior and senior and also earned All-American honors as a senior. She currently ranks second in school history with 38 goals and fourth with 83 points. This fall she will be inducted into the SSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
After several years playing semi-professional soccer, injury led Salzmann to coaching full time.
A co-head coach at Ursuline High in 1998, Salzmann then led the Piner team in 1999. She was an assistant coach at Long Beach State University 2001-2003 and at Sonoma State in 2005. Following that season, Salzmann coached the Sonoma County Sol women’s semi-pro team three years.
A longtime Santa Rosa United youth coach, Salzmann has been the club’s director of girl’s coaching since 2008.