|Position:||Associate Head Coach|
|Alma Mater:||UNC Wilmington|
Associate Head Coach Mika Elovaara joined the Richmond women's soccer program before the 2014 fall season. Elovaara has a strong player background and vast coaching experience building championship teams and developing all-conference, youth national team and professional players.
His impact on the Richmond women’s soccer program has been immediate, as he helped head coach Peter Albright coach the Spiders back to the A-10 tournament in 2014, with many players earning individual accolades throughout the season. Elovaara is involved in all facets of the program and his primary roles and responsibilities include individual player development, team coaching, film review and recruiting.
"I have never had the opportunity to hire someone with so much high-level head coaching experience," said Albright. "The depth and range of contributions that Mika has made to our program in less than a year has been very impressive. Probably the most unique aspect of our situation is that the three coaches have such a collaborative coaching relationship. We don’t have a division of labor, but rather a sharing of all aspects and input and impact in all of the important areas of running the program. We’re very fortunate to have someone of Mika’s exceptional character and background helping to direct the women’s program."
Elovaara helped the Spiders bounce back after in 2016 an injury-ridden 2015 season. The team finished the 2016 season with nine wins, nearly doubling their win total from 2015. Their four conference wins were the most since 2012 when the team finished with a 4-4-1 conference mark. With his guidance on the attacking end, junior Lexi Prillaman was named to the Second team All-Atlantic 10 in 2016, while freshmen Brooke Beam and Alyssa Walker were both named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team.
In his first season with the Spiders in 2014, the Spiders finished with a 9-9-2 mark, 3-3-2 in the A-10, earning a return to the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships. The Spiders more than doubled their scoring output from the previous season with the help of Elovaara, turning in 37 goals, tied for the fourth-most in a single season at UR.
Elovaara joined the Spider Soccer Program from Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN, where he was the Director of the Girls Soccer Center of Excellence 2012-2014. In his two years in charge, the two SSM teams Elovaara led had a combined record of 115-31-22, and several of his players were invited to represent their country with the U17, U18 and U20 national teams.
Before landing in Minnesota, Elovaara was an Assistant Coach with the women’s program at his alma mater, UNC Wilmington, where he helped develop 10 All-CAA players and coach UNCW to a program record for most CAA wins in a season in 2008, most wins in a season in 2009, and the program’s first CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. While in North Carolina, Elovaara also worked with the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association’s Olympic Development Program.
Prior to his return to UNCW, Elovaara began his coaching career in his hometown, Oulu, Finland, as the Head Coach of an Elite U17 Boys Academy for FC OLS, where he also helped develop youth national team players and players to the collegiate and professional ranks. In three seasons, the squad was 52-29-19.
As a player, Elovaara won three national championships as a member and team captain of the Kastelli Sports Academy in his native Finland before crossing the Atlantic to attend UNC Wilmington. He was a four-year letter winner and a two-year captain at UNCW (1995-1999) and still ranks as the all-time leader in games started for the Seahawks. Following his 1999 graduation with a BA in English from UNCW, Elovaara played over 150 professional games back in Finland.
Elovaara received his MA in English Philology from the University of Oulu in Finland in 2002 before completing work on a Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature there in 2007. He is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and he holds the B license from the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), as well as a UEFA Soccer Fitness, Strength and Conditioning Certificate.