Sheldon Chamberlain stepped down as head coach of the Spring-Ford girls soccer team Monday to return to the college ranks.
The highly-successful longtime coach moves on to take an assistant role at West Chester University, departing a Spring-Ford program that last year had its most successful season to date highlighted by a trip to the PIAA Class AAA championship game.
Top assistant Tim Leyland, a 1998 Perkiomen Valley graduate, will serve as interim head coach, according to Spring-Ford athletic director Mickey McDaniel.
In his three-year tenure guiding the Rams, Chamberlain led the team to a drastic rise, culminating in a 24-3-1 season that featured the program's first Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and first berth in the PIAA tournament.
"Last year was just a fabulous thing," Chamberlain said when reached by phone Tuesday night. "(Girls soccer is) so popular at Spring-Ford, I hope they get the right people in to keep everything going."
According to Chamberlain, he was approached by West Chester to apply for its open assistant coaching position on Aug. 1. He hoped for an expedited process in West Chester's coaching search to not allow it to affect the start of the high school soccer preseason.
"I didn't want to let anybody down at Spring-Ford," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain, who has spent 47 years as a coach including stints as men's head coach at La Salle University and women's head coach at Villanova University, was offered a position with the Golden Rams last Friday.
After a sleepless night Friday and being very conflicted over the decision, Chamberlain informed McDaniel of his decision to move on to West Chester Sunday and informed the team Monday.
The announcement was met with support from the Rams team that returns five starters - senior goalkeeper Jenna Griggs, junior forward Gabby Vagnozzi, junior midfielder Bri Cirino and junior defenders Laura Suero and Taylor Newhart - to the reigning PIAA silver medalists.
"The families and student-athletes are amazing at Spring-Ford. We had shining examples as students and athletes," Chamberlain said. "I'll miss everyone."