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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.  



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.




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. 


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.



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.


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.


Deb Boiarsky has been playing soccer since the age of 5 and continued to play competitively through college.  She played collegiately at Villanova University for 4 years, captaining the team in her senior year. She continued playing after college in amateur and recreational leagues until successive knee injured relegated her to the sidelines.

She has coached youth girl’s teams in Connecticut following college as well as coaching youth summer camps at the US Military Academy during college.  Deb joined SP in the fall of 2017.  She likes that SP as a club separates itself from others in its focus on player development rather than game results and in equipping players to respect the game in all aspects

Deb is an attorney specializing in a narrow area of corporate and tax law, which allows her to help their clients navigate the intricacies of federal laws impacting the benefits that they provide to their employees

Her favorite collegiate teams to follow are her undergraduate alma mater Villanova University and her post-graduate alma mater, Ohio State University.  She also likes to follow Barcelona and catch some Premier league games when she can.

Deb’s husband, Russell, is also a coach at SP.  They have 2 children who both play for the club.

Her favorite holiday is Christmas.  She loves to decorate the house and tree and making those cookies that you only make once a year.


Rachel Brown has been playing soccer from as early as she can remember.  She played on recreational teams until she secured a spot on a select competitive travel team and continued to play throughout her academic career.  She has her F license and is currently furthering her coaching education through the new Grass Roots program with US Soccer.

She is a stay at home mom during the day.  She loves being able to spend extra time with her daughters and watching them grow. She has 2 daughters Reagan who plays for SP and Evelyn who loves to dance and cheer Reagan on at her soccer games.

Rachel started with SP in the Fall of 2018.  Her favorite things about SP is that everyone is like family.  The coaches want their players to become better and the coaches are always supporting each other in becoming better as well.

In her spare time Rachel likes to watch her favorite soccer team Arsenal and read books.  Her favorite book is “My Life and The Beautiful Game”, the autobiography of Pele’.

Rachel loves all Holidays because it is so much fun seeing how creative and excited my daughters are to decorate and to celebrate.


Martin Gallo was raised in Cali, Colombia in South America and grew up playing and watching the game of soccer throughout his childhood.  This passion for the game has lasted into his adulthood also.  Throughout his life he has enjoyed coaching and teaching youth the basic skills and techniques of soccer with a player centric method. Passing, juggling, goalkeeping and defensive skills are keys to developing and Martin has focused on those areas.  He enjoys development of the youth athlete and to help them develop a passion for the sport.  He likes to maintain a safe and healthy environment during practice and the play of game.  Martin is a soccer Spanish analyst for a local TV station and calls the play by play for the FC Columbus home games.

Martin is married and the father of two boys. He also enjoys running marathons and is a Cub Scout leader.


Chad Schuler grew up in Dresden, a small town of about 1500 people.  He played high school soccer at Tr-Valley High School and then in men’s open leagues in Dayton and Columbus.  Chad currently holds a B license from the USSF.  He has coached West Muskingum HS Boys Soccer, New Albany Boys Soccer, and New Albany Girls Soccer.  He was 2010 Central District HS Coach of the Year and 2010 & 2012 OCC Coach of the year.  He is also an OSYSA licensed instructor for youth coaches.

Chad is a teacher at New Albany High School.  He loves helping student better themselves academically and socially.  The relationships he is able to forge with the students is the most rewarding part of his job.

One of Chads favorite things about SP is how the coaches focus on making each player better each and every day.  He also has 2 children that play for SP.

Chad's family is from Bavaria and he would love to go there someday.  


Matt Malo joined our SP family in 2017.  He played high school soccer at Gahanna Lincoln High School and was a 4-letter varsity player.  Matt also played at the University of Cincinnati.

Matt holds an E license and is certified in CPR.  He has 40 plus years of playing experience including Division 1 Collegiate level.  When not playing soccer, Matt likes to golf and being outside doing something active.

He works at Nationwide and helps American workers prepare for and live in retirement.

One of the things Matt likes about SP is the collaboration between all the coaches.  He also loves working with the kids.

He grew up in Gahanna and loves the Columbus Crew.  He has been married for 20 years with a son who is a junior and a daughter who is entering her Freshman year in New Albany.  Both of Matts kids play for SP.

Matt would like to go overseas and see England, Argentina, Spain or Brazil compete in a futbol match.

His favorite holiday is Halloween because the weather is usually nice in Columbus and he enjoys seeing all the youngsters dressed up in their costumes.


John Lazcano started playing soccer at the age of 8.  He played rec until he came to SP and played until he went off to college.  He was also part of the Dublin Scioto High School soccer program where he lettered and earned multiple individual awards all four years. John has also worked with numerous college coaches.

John was born and raised in Dublin, Ohio and has a Mexican background.  He is currently a college student majoring in Marketing.

His favorite professional soccer teams are United States Men’s National Team, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Pachuca and Columbus Crew.  John also like College Football, UFC, and boxing.

John has been wanting to attend a World Cup for as long as he can remember! The World Cup has always been one of his biggest inspirations since he was young due to many reasons, but most importantly being able to see how an event can bring the world together for a month! Attending a World Cup would be a dream come true.


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