Charles Mhlauri – Director of Coaching
Charles Mhlauri is the Director of Coaching of Lightning Soccer Club. He is the former head coach of the Zimbabwe national team, participating in the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations Games. Charles holds the German A license, the most advanced coaching degree in Germany, in addition to the International DFB Coaching Certificate. He has worked with some of the top German clubs, including Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, training both senior and junior players. In addition to his work on the national team and in youth programs, Charles has coached and produced some of the top players in the English Premier League, such as Benjani Mwaruwari (Manchester City), and Peter Ndlovu (Coventry F.C., Sheffield F.C., Birmingham City FC). Beyond his work with Lightning SC, Charles regularly works camps at Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University, Yale University, Dartmouth College and Franklin Pierce University, among others, and with YSC, the Youth Development Partner of the Philadelphia Union MLS team. Charles runs NE Jr Prep Soccer Camp in partnership with fellow Lightning coach Mike Doherty. In 2008, Charles was named Ambassador for Grass Roots Soccer, an international non-profit organization that provides African youth with the knowledge, life skills, and support to live HIV-free through the game of soccer.
Kristin Thompson has her FIFA AFC "B" Coaching License and was selected for an elite coaching program for young and upcoming coaches in Asia called Project Future in 2008. She coached for the Guam Football Association at the international level from 2007-2013, where she was head coach of the U14 and U16 Girls teams. Kristin was also the Director of the GFA National Academy Girls program on Guam from 2011-13. She has played at the international level since she was 15 and is still a player for the Guam Women's National Team. Kristin played for Northland International University for four years and earned regional and national recognition. She is currently working at Lightning Soccer Club as the Girls Director, a staff coach, and assisting in the direction of the club.
Chris Dawes grew up playing football in Jamaica. He played for Galaxy FC and Portmore United in addition to playing on the U20, U23 and the Senior National team for Jamaica, earning over 60 caps. He participated in the 1998 World Cup for Jamaica. Chris played professionally for the Belgian club, Handzame (1996), and for the Colorado Rapids (2001). In his coaching career he has led the U17 Boys national team for Jamaica and coached in the premier league for the club he co-founded, Sporting Central Academy in Clarendon, Jamaica. He has his FA International Intermediate certificate, a Jamaican Football Federation Advanced Level II certificate, and a NSCAA National Diploma.
John played striker and midfielder for the University of Massachusetts Division 1 soccer team (2 year letter winner, 1980 & 1983). He went on to coach the U Mass JV Men’s team in 1984. He reports with humor that his highlight win that season was a 1-0 victory over his "safety school," Harvard. A three-year Varsity player in high school and captain his senior year, John credits his high school coach, Leo Williams, for inspiring his lifelong love of the game. Since moving to Norwich, VT with his wife Deanna (also a Lightning head coach) and their three children, John has coached Lightning soccer for since 2005 and was Norwich Recreation soccer coach for five years. John holds a USSF E license.
Deanna Denault was a four-year varsity starter and senior captain of the University of Massachusetts Division I women's soccer team. Deanna helped lead her team to two NCAA Final Four appearances starting in 1982, the first year women's soccer held a national championship. Deanna has played with and against some of the top US women’s soccer players, including Soccer Hall of Famer Michelle Akers, and former US Women’s National Team coach and captain, April Heinrichs. Deanna holds a NSCAA Advanced Regional Level IV coaching license.
Mike Doherty is the former men’s head coach at Colgate University. During his 20 years as head coach, Mike was named the Lanzera National Coach of the Year, the Patriot League Coach of the Year, and earned two NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year honors. He also captured two Howard Hartman Awards as Colgate’s coach of the year. Mike coached an All-American, nine first-team all-region players, 28 first-team all-Patriot League selections, and one Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, two Rookies of the Year, and two tournament MVPs. As the former Managing Director of the Lightning Soccer Club, Mike helped build the club to compete at the state and regional levels in numbers not seen before by the club, sending two teams to the Region 1 Championships. Mike serves as the Associate Director of Admissions at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, NH and is the head girls varsity coach at KUA.
Rob Grabill has been part of Lightning Soccer Club since he moved to Hanover in 1990. He has coached dozens of teams over the years. 2010 was his fifth year as head coach for the boy’s varsity soccer team at Hanover High School in Hanover, NH. Under Rob’s leadership, the Hanover boys’ team has captured five consecutive Class I State Championships. In 2008 Rob was named Class I Coach of the Year, and in 2007 he won the New England Division II Coach of the Year Award, voted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. When he first moved to the Upper Valley Rob worked with the Dartmouth men’s soccer program for six years as the Freshman Coach and another eight years as a volunteer assistant. Prior to his time in Hanover, Rob was Head Coach at New Hampshire College (now Southern NH University) where he built a program that was nationally ranked and made two NCAA appearances. While at NH College Rob was named New England Division II Coach of the Year three times and NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year in 1987. Rob is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Windridge Tennis and Sports Camps, two residential co-ed camps in Vermont that draw some of the top youth players from across the country and beyond.
Doug Kennedy has been the head coach for the girl’s varsity soccer team at Hanover High School since 2008. He holds a USYS NHSA "E" License and a NSCAA Regional Coaching Diploma. For over 20 years, Doug has been involved in soccer in the Upper Valley; he has been a head coach for Lightning teams ranging from U8 to U16, was a board member for Lightning Soccer Club for 11 years and also coached for Hanover and Norwich Recreation programs from 1985-2007. Doug is a graduate of Middlebury College and University of Pennsylvania and is a consultant in real estate development throughout North America with focus on mountain (ski) resorts.
Dino Koff was the head women's soccer coach at Trinity College of VT, where he led the Crusaders to their only title in the Northern Independence Conference and a berth in the National Tournament. A graduate of SUNY Cortland and Kansas State University, Dino had a very successful playing career in central NY. Now the Director of Financial Aid and Student Affairs at Dartmouth Medical School, Dino has remained involved in soccer in the Upper Valley and has coached for multiple ages of Lightning teams.
Bill grew up playing club soccer in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA. He went on to play Division 1 soccer for University of Pennsylvania, and later for semi-pro clubs in DC and CA. After college, Bill coached high school soccer for Harrisburg Academy in Pennsylvania, followed by a stint as an assistant coach at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA, and later as a youth soccer coach in CA and here in Norwich, VT. After getting his law degree at Boston University, Bill and his wife Pam lived in Northern California, returning to the Upper Valley in 2005 with their young family. Bill is now Chief Operating Officer of Grassroot Soccer, the international non-profit organization dedicated to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa through the power of soccer, and Lightning Soccer Club's charity partner.
Soren is a long-time resident of the Upper Valley who started his soccer career at the original Lightning Soccer Camps. He played soccer at Oxbow High School in Bradford, VT and went on to play varsity soccer at High Point University in North Carolina. Soren has had a diverse range of coaching experiences. At the college level, he has served as an assistant coach for both Division III Westminster College, PA and for Springfield College, MA, and has coached at the Duke University and Dartmouth College camps. In addition, Soren has worked extensively coaching at the youth and high school level in the Upper Valley and beyond. Soren holds a Premier Diploma from the NSCAA.
Rob grew up playing soccer in his native England. He played all the way through school and into his mid-twenties. He completed his English FA Coaching Preliminary Award before moving to the US. He has been the Varsity Boys soccer coach at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, VT since 2005, guiding his team to State Finals in '06, '08, '09 and '11. He was named VT Soccer Coach of the Year in 2009, and Central VT League Coach in the same year. Rob is also a teach of Biology and is the assistant Head of School at Sharon Academy. Rob holds the NSCAA Level VI diploma.
Dan has over 20 years experience in coaching high level competitive youth soccer. He holds a USSF B coaching license, a NSCAA Premier coaching diploma, as well as the UEFA B coaching license. Dan is the Vermont State Director for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He has been a head coach in the ODP (the Olympic Development Program) for U13 and U15 Girls teams in Massachusetts and Texas, and has coached highly competitive youth teams for clubs such as FC Greater Boston Bolts, Spirit of Mass and Texas Image. Dan has coached for Lightning since moving to the area.