HICKORY, N.C. – Doug Socha has been named the 24th head football coach of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate announced. Socha comes to Hickory from Keiser University (Florida) where he served as the head football coach for six years, accumulating a 55-15 record on his way to winning the NAIA National Championship in 2023.
“I am beyond excited to welcome Doug Socha and his family to Hickory to take over the reins of our storied football program,” said Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate. “Coach Socha has won at every level of football and brings proven leadership and a record of success from his time in the NFL, Division I, high school, and, most recently, Keiser University. He has developed Keiser into a national powerhouse and understands the importance of building a championship culture that develops student-athletes on and off the field.”Socha, who started the football program at Keiser, led the Seahawks to their first national championship in 2023 with a 12-2 record. After the title-winning season, Socha was named the 2023 AFCA NAIA Coach of the Year. He was also named The Sun Conference Coach of the Year four times during his six-year tenure at Keiser.
During his time in West Palm Beach, Socha led the program to a .786 winning percentage and a .916 winning percentage in The Sun Conference. Socha led the Seahawks to five straight conference titles and appeared in the NAIA playoffs five consecutive seasons, including a semifinal appearance in 2020 and back-to-back national championship appearances in 2022 and 2023.
“My family and I are thrilled to join the LR family and the Hickory Community,” said Socha. “I would like to thank President Whitt, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate, and the screening committee for showing me how truly special Lenoir-Rhyne is from its academic excellence, strong alumni, and championship expectations.”
Socha’s team produced impressive numbers on both sides of the ball over the past five seasons, including an average of 402.8 yards per game, 218.3 rushing yards per game, 184.6 passing yards per game, and 35.6 points per game. His 2023 Seahawks team registered a school-record 3,169 yards on the ground with 47 rushing touchdowns. The defense held its opponents to 18.5 points per game, 90.3 rushing yards per game, and 28.5% completion rate on third-down conversions. The Seahawks were ranked number one in NAIA in forced fumbles and number two in sacks and fumble recoveries.
“Doug joins the Bear family with a remarkable track record of winning and a deep understanding of what it takes to build a championship program. We are confident that he will not only lead our team to victory on the field, but also inspire our students and uphold the legacy of excellence that defines Lenoir-Rhyne,” said University President Dr. Fred Whitt. “Beyond Doug’s impressive record on the field, it’s his commitment to developing well-rounded individuals that truly sets him apart. His focus on academic achievement, personal growth, and community engagement perfectly aligns with LR’s core values. We believe that under his leadership, our student-athletes will not only excel on the gridiron, but also become leaders and role models both on and off the field.”
Before Keiser, Socha served as an NFL offensive quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills in the 2016 season and assisted with coaching the running backs and scout team defense. In that role, he worked directly under Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn while being responsible for the organization and distribution of the offensive game plan.
Socha is a graduate of California State University-Northridge where he received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. Prior to graduating, he played football at Los Angeles Valley College and Mesa State as a defensive back. As a renowned speaker, Socha has presented at multiple events, including the Glazier and Nike Coach of the Year Clinics.
Socha and his wife, Carrie, are proud parents of six beautiful children, including two who have graduated college and have joined the coaching ranks. Their son Cade is currently the offensive analyst at University of Hawaii and their daughter Camryn is an assistant women’s soccer coach at Nova Southeastern. They have two high school age daughters, Ana and Monica, who enjoy playing soccer; and two elementary age sons, Kolbe and Gabriel, who are avid hockey players.
“I would like to extend my deep appreciation to President Whitt, the screening committee, and to Dr. Kurt Patberg with Mammoth Sports Consulting for their investment in our search process,” Pate added. “Their relentless effort and unwavering commitment to finding the absolute best leader and coach to continue to position our student-athletes and team for success was extraordinary.”
Socha will be introduced at a public ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 12 p.m. in Belk Centrum on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus.