United States Sports Academy master’s degree holder Lorenzo Canalis, the winningest women’s soccer coach in Berry College history, recently announced his plan to retire after 25 seasons leading the Vikings on the pitch.
A native of Torino, Italy, Canalis earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 1991. He served as the Vikings’ women’s soccer coach since 1995 and amassed a 322-137-37 record. He coached 39 All-Southern Athletic Association (SAA) selections, 130 SAA Academic Honor Roll honorees, a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, and led the team to a 2014 Southern Athletic Association regular-season championship. He was also named the SAA’s Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Like many of the Academy’s degree holders and students, Canalis studied with the institution while he was already working in the sports field.
“Practically, my Academy master’s degree opened doors,” Canalis said. “I was already in the coaching profession, but having a master’s degree made me more marketable for small college jobs where teaching is often part of the job description. But more importantly, in the long term, it gave me a professional knowledge base in collegiate athletics and coaching that I truly enjoyed learning, and that I have used every day in my career.
“The format was perfectly suited for me and my needs at the time. The teaching was informative and challenging. The personal connections I made were very helpful, some of them to this day.”
During his coaching career in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Canalis won a Georgia Athletic Conference title, six TranSouth Conference titles, and five NAIA Regional Championships. He also led Berry to seven NAIA National Tournament appearances. In 1997, the Vikings earned a third-place finish at the NAIA National Tournament.
Canalis was honored as the Mid-South Region Coach of the Year in 1996 and 1998, NAIA Region XIII and NSCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2004, and six TranSouth Conference Coach of the Year awards (1996-1999 and 2001-2002). In 2008, Canalis coached the Vikings to the round of 16 in the NAIA National Tournament.
“I enjoyed the teaching, nurturing and competition of coaching,” Canalis said. “I love soccer. I identified with the mission of Berry, with an emphasis on character development, and treasured the atmosphere of coaching at a small school.
“I realized that coaching was the perfect way for me to be involved in the game beyond my players years.”