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SP Coaches




Deno Ellis played competitive soccer at the Junior and Secondary School National Level in his native Jamaica’s Dacosta Cup and Oliver Shield League Competitions. In 1997 his team was undefeated and won the National Oliver Shields Boys Competition. He migrated to the US on scholarship in 2000, and played on competitive men’s college club teams and the Caribbean Soccer Premier League club teams in Atlanta, GA alongside other national and internationally-ranked Jamaican/Caribbean “footballers”. Deno still occasionally plays for fun on premier and recreational league teams around Columbus and enjoys a good ‘pick up’ game.

Deno landed in the Columbus area in 2009 and put his Youth Soccer Coaching Certification to good use in the NAYSL Recreational League for two and a half years successfully coaching U-11 teams in both indoor and outdoor soccer. He is now a Nationally Certified Coach by the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) and has been coaching with SP Soccer Academy since fall of 2011 (?). He is a professor of Industrial Design at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and really enjoys serving as a creative educator and mentor to his students and advancing his professional expertise. For fun, you may find Deno cycling, playing basketball or table tennis, participating in Japanese martial arts like Seido Karate or spinning tunes as a DJ. (He loves music!)Deno lives in North Columbus with his wonderful wife Ellen, beautiful baby girl Savannah and little puppy Baxter. With no other family in town, Deno thinks SP’s family atmosphere is great and it makes coaching more enjoyable and satisfying.

Deno would love to travel to Japan someday—and go back to Jamaica at Easter for traditional Easter food, bun and cheese. He says his mom’s is the best! 


Steve Ulry has played soccer from childhood. He played for his high school and a club team while a student at the College of Charleston, but then began coaching and continued on that path. He holds his USSF (US Soccer Federation) License and has coached select club teams and high school boys’ teams in South Carolina, was an assistant at Otterbein University, Club WASA Ambassador, high school girls soccer, and now at SP Soccer Academy (since winter 2013-2014). 

Steve says he is really excited about coaching with SP.  The philosophy is what brought him to the club: player development in a small, "family" style environment.

A history teacher for 21 years, Steve still cannot believe he has a job that allows me to discuss history all day to wonderful students. His favorite thing about teaching is when a student finds a part of history exciting!

Steve is married to Eileen Anne and is a collector of books. “If I had an hour, I would spend it reading a book.  I keep buying books, and have two bookcases of them to read, but never have the time to read any of them!”

He grew up in Westerville watching Bayern München FC with his family. His childhood soccer heroes were Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner and Lothar Matthäus.


Christian Elliott joined SP Soccer Academy for the 2014-2015 seasons and holds classes F and E coaching licenses. He has experience coaching youth club and recreational teams as well as summer camp coaching since 1991.

Christian grew up playing soccer, including being a 4-year varsity starter in high school and 4-year starter at Denison University, where he also was named All League and All Region. He continues to play with Columbus United in the Columbus Premier League and on coed rec teams with his wife Emily, who also coaches.

An entrepreneur who is an owner or partner in environmental and real estate companies, Christian says he loves Gino's approach to training, the amazing group of kids at SP Soccer Academy and how they support each other throughout the teams /age divisions. He also appreciates the great group of coaches he gets to learn from.

He and Emily have three children, Sydney, Morgan (who plays at SP) and Mia. The whole family enjoys playing team and individual sports and participating in recreational activities, though Christian says he can’t get enough of watching tv when it means watching Manchester City play!  


John Clay
 holds a Class E coaching license and has coached for nine years, joining SP Soccer Academy in the Fall 2015. As a chemical engineer who teaches at The Ohio State University and is a Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute, John enjoys helping people solve tough technical challenges and teaching students how to be better problem solvers.

At SP, John enjoys the camaraderie. “Gino has instilled a culture where everyone, from the academy director to coaches to support staff to volunteers to parents are focused on the kids and helping them improve,” he says.

An Ohio native, John follows OSU football and he loves to watch great soccer, no matter the teams (though he may be partial to the Premier League’s Liverpool and West Ham United). He has been a recreational soccer player for more than 20 years, is an active runner and is always more than willing to play just about any sport, including football and basketball.

John and his wife Kristy have three children, Meredith (11), Luke (14) and Natalie (14). Both girls play at SP Soccer Academy.  


Erik Barbon began coaching at SP Soccer Academy in the Fall of 2014. He holds a USSF class A license and has been a national youth coach, US Soccer scout and was a club director in Florida. He has played in Canada, Argentina and Italy and studied in the US. 

As Interim Superintendent of Columbus Bilingual Academies, Erik loves being around students who are like he was growing up and he loves working with the dedicated staff who teaches those students. Likewise, when it comes to SP, Erik’s favorite aspect is the family atmosphere. He says the players, parents, administrative staff and coaches are great to be around. Gino Padula is a great Director--even though he is a River Plate fan. Erik supports Argentinian club Boca Juniors, River Plate’s biggest rival!

Erik and his wife Tracy have a daughter named Elia, 5, who just started playing soccer at SP. Spending time with Elia is how Erik prefers to spend his free time. However, if given an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, he would caravan across Europe to every major soccer stadium and catch a game like those crazy guys do for baseball.


John Giganti is a life-long soccer player, dating back to club soccer in Cleveland. He was part of the two-time state championship team at Brecksville High School before playing collegiately at the Division 1 Bowling Green State University. He began coaching at SP Soccer Academy in the fall of 2015 and holds an F coaching license.

In addition to soccer, John loves to play golf. He is still a big Bowling Green soccer supporter and a fan of the Crew.His Cleveland roots give him a soft spot for the Browns, Indians and Cavs, but he roots for Buckeye football now that he’s been in Columbus for several years.

John is married to Michelle and they have three children: Gabriel, who plays for SP Soccer Academy, Reese, who’s also an avid soccer player and Emerson, a future soccer player! Someday, John would love take his dad to visit his family in Sicily. He was born there and came to the US when he was 6 years old.By day, John is in tech sales and says it’s great to know that his company is helping their clients provide great service to their customer base.

John says he loves the culture and people at SP.“While we’re serious about performing well, it’s more about being respectful and disciplined. Gino lives the Become Better motto and doesn’t focus on winning at all costs.I love the family atmosphere as well.



Jose “Pepe” Trejo
 began playing soccer as a child in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and was playing semi-pro by age 14. Pepe came to the US as a 15-year- old and played high school soccer until an ACL injury ended his playing career. Now, he enjoys coaching and holds an F license. He has been with SP Soccer Academy since mid-2015 and is on the coaching staff at Bexley High School with fellow SP coaches Scott James and Aiden Green. About SP, Pepe says his favorite things are the atmosphere, the kids, coaching staff, everything in general! “It’s like a big family where you always feel welcome.”

When not on the soccer pitch, Pepe runs a food truck and works as a Spanish translator at local hospitals. He loves helping his Latino community who doesn't speak English as they navigate their healthcare needs. He looks forward to his annual trip to his great-grandmother’s house in Guadalajara for New Year’s Eve to celebrate with his extended family who all come together for this holiday.



Kevin Headly
has been a Columbus resident for the last ten years, and a member of the SP Soccer Academy coaching staff since the 2014-2015 season. He began playing soccer at the age of 7 in his native Guyana, and has had the joy of playing all over the world including the US, England as well as throughout Latin America, and the Caribbean. Kevin moved to the United States with his family at the age of 12 and attended high school in Silver Spring Maryland. He is a graduate of Bucknell University where he was also a member of the wrestling program, and is an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club.

A former Guyanese international, Kevin grew up admiring Brazilian legend Pele and dreaming of playing in the World Cup. His playing days now long behind him, Kevin’s present focus is sharing his immense passion for the beautiful game with the kids he coaches. He holds coaching licenses from both the NSCAA and the US Soccer Federation and hopes to continue his coaching education in Europe at some point in the future.


Allison Turner began playing bumble bee soccer as a 4-year- old. From the ages of 9 to 18, she played club soccer with Elite FC (now FC 42) out of Union County. She also played and started as a forward/center mid for the varsity Bellefontaine High School team and lettered all four seasons. She was second in all time assists and third in all time goals scored when she graduated. Allison received a scholarship to Ashland University where she played soccer. Allison coached high school soccer from recreational to varsity level teams before joining SP Soccer Academy in the 2015-2016 winter. Allison is certified in first aid/ CPR/ AED, Concussion NFHS and Heads Up Concussion, and holds a NFHS Coaching License.

A recent graduate with an associate’s degree in Applied Science for the Physical Therapy Assistant,Allison is pursuing her PTA license. She also works as nanny and a competitive cheerleading coach at Midwest Cheer Elite in Sunbury. Allison loves working with children and says her favorite part about SP is the welcoming environment and the respect our athletes have for our coaches. “I love that we are not confined to be separated by our ages and that we practice with all ages and scrimmage each other to continue to Become Better as a program.



Michelle Weingarth
 joined SP Soccer Academy in the spring, 2016 and coaches U14/15 girls.  She holds a US F-license. Soccer is her favorite sport and she has played for Zanesville Arsenal SC, West Muskingum High School and Otterbein College. She continues to play in coed adult leagues year round and enjoys watching the USMNT and USWNT live and on tv. Michelle appreciates the family atmosphere of SP, the dedication the coaches have to the kids and their willingness to help.

By day, Michelle is a financial manager for Educational Service Council of Central Ohio and she would like to someday be the treasurer of a school district. In her free time, Michelle enjoys watching her favorite shows on Netflix, drawing or painting. She hopes to visit all 50 states, but given an all-expense paid trip, Michelle would head straight to Europe!



Emily Elliot 
has an F coaching license and joined SP Soccer Academy in fall 2017 with seven years’ experience coaching recreation level soccer and two years of basketball. She says she’s been playing soccer since before she can remember and it has been her favorite thing since she was about 12. She played high school soccer in Pittsburgh, PA and ODP, was a four-year starter at Denison University and continues to play in adult leagues today.

Emily is married to SP Coach Christian Elliot and they have three children: Sydney, Morgan (who plays for SP) and Mia. She roots for the US Women’s National Team and Pittsburgh Steelers and loves to play basketball, softball, tennis and to ski in addition to soccer. Very family-oriented, Emily’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it’s so much fun to be all together.

She says her favorite thing about SP is that the club is a varied group of people working toward a common goal. 


Russell Boiarsky joined SP in spring 2016 and has his US Soccer F License. He grew up playing club soccer in Houston, TX, played varsity in high school and club soccer at Duke University. He has a passion for the game and, more importantly, for sparking that energy in the next generation of players. In addition to soccer, Russell grew up playing baseball, volleyball, golf and gymnastics. He says the attitude at SP is different from any other club he’s experienced. “There is a wonderful balance of training and respect that creates a wholesome atmosphere for the players while still enabling them to compete at top levels. Gino’s energy and engagement is a testament to the family atmosphere the club creates.”

Russell’s career as a marketing director allows him to blend creativity and analytics while problem-solving for large brands. In his free time, you might find Russell composing music. A musician since childhood, he enjoys composing for theater, film, and advertising. He says he has always enjoyed having a balance of activities in his life and believes there is no limit to what you can be great at, as long as you’re willing to put in the time. He is married to Deb and their son A.J.  and daughter Anna play soccer for SP.



Ryan Keenan
holds E and F coaching licenses and joined SP for spring season 2017. Through his experience as a player, Ryan learned that having a positive mindset and constructive role models are the biggest keys to success on the pitch. Helping kids understand this is one of his coaching passions. He appreciates SP for being an honorable program filled with good people. He says, “It is wonderful to be around other people who help make a positive impact on today’s youth.”

Ryan is married and has two daughters and is an executive director at JP Morgan Chase. His favorite team to follow is the US Men’s Nation Team and in his free time, he likes to read a good book.


Tony Hernandez
 joined SP Soccer Academy for the spring 2017 season. He has been playing soccer all his life. He grew up in Michigan where he played club soccer, before going on to play in college and in Europe. Prior to SP, he coached high school soccer in Michigan and Ohio.

A restaurant manager by day, Tony loves always being on the go. If he’s not working or coaching, he‘s likely playing soccer or futsal or maybe a video game. His favorite teams to follow are the Premier League’s Arsenal and Argentina’s Boca Juniors.

Tony says his favorite things about SP Soccer Academy are the coaches, the players and the philosophy.


Alphonso Kolliesuah joined SP Soccer Academy for Spring 2017, drawn by the philosophy of helping players “become better”. He holds a National D license and has been coaching youth soccer in the Columbus area for 20 years. Originally from Liberia, West Africa, Alphonso played college soccer there before coming to the US. He played locally for Kissigi, an amateur club that dominated the Columbus Premier Soccer League (CPSL) for years.

Alphonso works as a civil engineer and like that the work is demanding and challenging. He is married with three children and in his free time he enjoys basketball and supporting The Ohio State Buckeyes.



Ben Zajd joined SP Soccer Academy as a coach in 2017. He has his National E coaching license and has also several years’ experience as a youth soccer referee. Ben, a Westerville native, has played soccer since he was six years old. He played club, on the Varsity high school team and, most recently, in the Columbus Premier Men’s League at Division 1 for five years. 

A Columbus Crew fan “forever and always,” Ben also enjoys playing tennis, golf and competitive rock climbing in addition to soccer. Ben is an oncology clinical research manager and loves playing a major role in studies allowing patients access to experimental treatments, especially in therapeutic areas like oncology, where patients usually have exhausted standard of care treatments. He especially loves seeing those patients respond positively to the treatments!

Ben’s family includes two very furry “children” whose favorite activities include playing outside with balls and toys, playing tag and jumping in mud puddles. In his free time, Ben may be found reading, playing video games or sketching with charcoal. “I like the escape that they all provide and they challenge my imagination,” he says.

Ben’s favorite thing about SP is that the coaches bring more to the field than just knowledge. They bring a passion and enjoyment for the game as well as working with kids of all ages.



Frank Appiah, PhD, began coaching at SP Soccer Academy in 2017. He has a National F license and prior experience coaching at the YMCA and Lexington Youth Soccer Academy. He also has coached high school.

Frank grew up in Accra, Ghana and played soccer there from high school through college. He is a data scientist at a regional bank in Columbus and loves bringing raw data to life. He lives with his wife and two children and, besides soccer, Frank enjoys table tennis, tennis, track and reading books. He is a fan of Barcelona (Spain) and Chelsea (England) professional soccer teams. 

Frank says his favorite thing about SP Soccer Academy is that the players are more disciplined than typical and it is well organized. 


Miguel Limon 
joined SP Soccer Academy in 2017 and holds a Class E Coaching license with the USSF and a coaching license with United Soccer Coaches Association.  Miguel began playing soccer at an early age. When he was 14 he was offered a position in the Club America U15 Academy and played until he was 17 at which point he was selected to play for the Club American reserves.

As a Contracting Officer for the Defense Logistics Agency Miguel enjoys being able to support our Armed Forces and provide support to our troops.

Miguel loves the atmosphere at SP Soccer. The coaches are there for each other and are willing to help one another.  He also likes that they don't stress winning. but helping players truly Become Better.

MIguel and his wife Cathy have 3 children Marie, Cruz, and Cali. Cruz plays at SP Soccer Academy. He would also love to attend a World Cup someday with his son.


Burak Ergezen has played soccer at various levels including, select, high school, semi-pro and recreational.  He has coached at the high school and college level and currently holds a D license.

Burak works as a Regional Environmental Coordinator at a utility company, part of his job is to teach environmental classes to employees.

One of Burak's favorite things about SP is that development is the most important feature rather than winning trophies.

Burak is a single father of 2. His son Bryce plays for SP Soccer U9 and daughter Ella who is 6 plays recreational soccer.  In his spare time he loves to watch soccer on TV.  Fenerbahce and Chelsea are his favorite football clubs. If given the chance Burak would go to London and watch some EPL and Champions League games.


Kaitlyn McGoldrick 
grew up playing club soccer in Central Ohio.  She played for St Francis DeSales High School and then collegiate for Xavier University.  She has previously coached club soccer in Northern Kentucky, high school at St Francis DeSales and has helped coach in numerous camps. She holds a USSF E license.Her favorite pro soccer team is the Columbus Crew.  She also likes following Xavier and Ohio State football.

As a business analyst/project manager for JP Morgan Chase, she loves working with her teammates to deliver quality applications to help best assist their clients.

Kaitlyn's favorite thing about SP Soccer is that the focus is not just on winning, but becoming overall better soccer players.

She currently lives in Columbus with her adorable do Gracie. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving celebrating with family and friends.


Scott James
 started playing soccer at an early age and still plays some co-ed soccer and also plays with his high school team. He has a National Goalkeeper License along with an E License. He was born and raised in Sarasota Florida and follows the University of Miami and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Scott also like watching the Chicago Cubs, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Columbus Crew.  In his spare time, he likes to play video games, usually some type of sports game and most of the time FIFA. 

He is a Health Education teacher and loves being around the students and being a role model for them as well as preparing them for a healthy future. 

The one thing Scott loves about SP Soccer is the family atmosphere and the close-knit coaching staff.  He thinks it is great to see coaches, player, and parents that generally want to see all teams within the club become successful.

Scott and his wife Elissa have 2 children, Noah and Aubrey and a dog named Jax.  His favorite holiday is Christmas. He loves the pressure and anxiety of giving presents as well as seeing the reactions of his children.  The family usually goes to Disney World over Christmas break.


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