SSU picks ex-Piner star Salzmann to coach women’s soccer


Returning to where she excelled as a player, Emiria Salzmann has been hired to take over the Sonoma State women’s soccer program after building Santa Rosa Junior College into a national powerhouse.

Emiria Salzmann, right, will be moving from SRJC to SSU as women's soccer coach. Press Democrat photo by Christopher Chung, 2008

Salzmann will replace Luke Oberkirch, the winningest women’s soccer coach in SSU history, who was not rehired 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 followed the unusual move by SSU officials in April to open the position with Oberkirch still leading the program. A search committee recommended Salzmann to Seawolves’ athletic director Bill Fusco. Salzmann’s salary will be $65,000.
“We are very pleased to have Emiria Salzmann as our new head coach,” Fusco said. “She is an outstanding leader who has made Santa Rosa Junior College a force throughout the state in community college soccer. 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 Div.II tournament appearances with a national runners-up finish in 1998 and seven first-place finishes in two conferences.
SRJC officials now must search for a new coach. Salzmann led the Bear Cubs for four seasons, winning Big8 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 SRJC 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 plenty of Empire playing and coaching experience.
After playing at Piner High, she went on to perform at SRJC in 1992 and the next three seasons at SSU. 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 SSU 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-pro 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 (2001-03) and at SSU 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.