Jason Crist enters his 18th year as the Spring Arbor University head women’s soccer coach in 2017.
Crist guided the Cougars to their second straight appearance in the NAIA national championship final in 2016 on the heels of earning the program’s first-ever NAIA national title in 2015.
Over the past two seasons, Crist and the Cougars have enjoyed a historic run. The program put together a 32-match winning streak, which ranks as the second-longest streak ever in the NAIA, as well as a 42-match unbeaten streak, tying for the second-longest mark all-time. Before falling in the 2016 national title match, SAU held the top spot in the NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll for 10 consecutive polls – the second-longest span in the history of the NAIA.
Spring Arbor also set several program records in 2016, including scoring 91 goals while conceding just five in 24 matches – the fewest goals allowed in the NAIA and tied for second-fewest in NAIA history. The Cougars also posted 19 shutouts, including four in the national tournament giving them nine consecutive shutouts in the tournament.
After leading the Cougars to a national title in 2015, Crist was named the NSCAA/NAIA National Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. In addition to the national recognition, Crist was also named NSCAA/NAIA Mideast Regional Coach of the Year for the fourth time.
Under Crist’s direction, Spring Arbor has won seven straight Crossroads League Tournament titles and six consecutive Crossroads League regular season championships. The team has made eight trips to the NAIA national tournament – seven straight since 2010 – and owns an overall mark of 13-6-2 in NAIA championship postseason. The Cougars have made five appearances in the Sweet 16, and advanced to the Final Four three times and the finals twice, including in 2015 when they won the whole thing.
Crist has coached 17 NAIA All-Americans, including one National Player of the Year.
At the completion of the 2016 season, Crist ranks fourth among active NAIA coaches in wins with 279. In 17 seasons, he has compiled a record of 279-77-24 (.766).
Spring Arbor annually plays one of the most aggressive NAIA schedules in the country. Over the past four seasons alone, the Cougars have played 35 teams either ranked or receiving votes in the Top 25 Poll and have posted an incredible 27-5-3 record in those matches.
Though no longer a member, Spring Arbor experienced a great amount of success in the NCCAA as well. The Cougars won the national title in 2010 while finishing runner-up in 2007 and third place in 2002. Crist was named the NSCAA/NCCAA National Coach of the Year in 2010 following the team’s championship win, and garnered Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors nine times.
Crist currently serves as the Women's Soccer Coaches Assosciation NAIA President, and has also served as the vice president and secretary. He has been a member of the national oversight committee for NAIA women's soccer and currently serves as the Crossroads League rater.
Before assuming head coaching duties for the Lady Cougars, Crist served as the assistant women's coach for two years at Spring Arbor. His coaching resume also includes experience coaching both boys and girls at Jackson High School and Jackson County Western High School. Crist has also worked with several clubs, most recently the Michigan Rush. He is nationally licensed by the USSF and is currently a staff coach Michigan ODP where he serves as the head coach for the 2005 girls state team.
Crist attended and played soccer at SAU. He has a bachelor of arts in elementary education with minors in language arts and exercise sports science. He and his wife, Melissa, have two children, Elijah and Samara. The Crists reside in Spring Arbor, Michigan.
|2004-05||18-2-3 NAIA National Tournament Sweet 16|
18-5-2 NAIA National Tournament Opening Round and NCCAA National Champions
|2011-12||19-3-1 NAIA National Tournament Sweet 16|
|2012-13||20-3-2 NAIA National Tournament Final Four|
|2013-14||18-3-1 NAIA National Tournament Opening Round|
|2014-15||19-1-2 NAIA National Tournament Sweet 16|
|2015-16||23-2-1 NAIA National Champions|
|2016-17||22-1-1 NAIA National Runner Up|
Sam Ulstad begins his seventh year as the lead assistant for the women's soccer program.
Ulstad brings a plethora of coaching experience to the Lady Cougar's staff and has already made an impact within the program that is pushing the team to new levels, both on and off the field.
Ulstad was a standout high school soccer player at Midland Christian High School before enrolling at Spring Arbor College in the fall of 1987.
In his time at Spring Arbor, Ulstad was the leading goal scorer for the Cougars, producing 44 goals over his four years, some of which were spent playing in the back as a defender. Ulstad captained the 1990 Cougar squad in his senior campaign where he had the opportunity to lead current SAU head coach Jason Crist, who was a freshman on the team at the time.
An accomplished high school coach, Ulstad spent 12 years at the helm of the girl's program at Jackson High School where he racked up a record of 113-83-14 and garnered District III Coach of the Year honors in 2006. He was also named the Jackson Citizen Patriot All-Area Coach of the Year in 2006.
Ulstad has also been active in the club ranks, leading MSPSL teams from Jackson United, and more recently Michigan Rush Jackson.
Longtime members of the Spring Arbor community, Ulstad and his wife, Ann, attend the Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church and reside close to campus. The Ulstad's have five children, Amanda, Emily, Allison, Samantha and Ethan.