Mike Potempa began as head coach of the Montverde Academy Boys' Varsity Soccer Team in January of 2010 and built the program into the best soccer academy in the country. In only his first season in 2010-11, Potempa led the Eagles to their first undefeated season in school history with a final overall record of 26 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw. In addition, the Eagles managed to finish the season recognized as the No. 1 team in Central Florida according to the Orlando Sentinel, the No. 1 team in the State of Florida by ESPN, and crowned 2010-11 National Champions by ESPN Rise magazine and the POWERADE Fab 50.
In 2012, under Potempa's leadership, the Eagles were once again recognized as the best high school soccer program in the United States by MaxPreps.com with a final overall record of 23 wins, 0 losses, and 4 draws. For the second consecutive year, every senior in the class of 2012 received an athletic scholarship to NCAA and NAIA institutions including an unprecedented 9 Division I signings.
Since 2010, the Montverde Academy Boys' Varsity Soccer Program has been named consensus National Champions for seven consecutive seasons holding the longest unbeaten streak in the history of boys’ high school soccer in the United States that currently stands at 172 consecutive matches (163 wins, 0 losses, 9 draws). Under Potempa, the Montverde Academy Boys' Soccer Program has also witnessed over 150 student-athletes graduate and go on to amass athletic and academic scholarships to colleges and universities across the country in addition to 18 student athletes who have signed first team professional contracts in Europe, South American, Major League Soccer (MLS), and United Soccer League (USL).
As a player, Potempa is a former U.S. National Team member at the Under-17, Under-18, Under-20, and Under-23 levels and represented the United States in the 1995 FIFA Under-17 Youth World Cup in Quito, Ecuador. He was a three time All-American and captain at Clemson University helping lead the Tigers to an ACC Championship in 1998. Potempa was the first male soccer player in program history to be recognized as an academic and athletic All-American in the same year and remains one of only 15 student athletes at Clemson University to accomplish this impressive double. Potempa was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft, but was forced into early retirement due to injuries.
As a coach, Potempa holds a USSF “A” coaching license and spent seven years as a Division I college coach at his alma mater from 2004 through 2010. While at Clemson University, Potempa coached in the 2005 College Cup Final Four, and worked with over 20 student athletes who eventually went on to play professionally in Major League Soccer and abroad. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Montverde Academy with 17 years coaching at the high school, club, and NCAA Division I levels.
Mike also has experience at the Academy as an English and writing instructor at Montverde Academy in addition to his then role as Director of Athletics. Potempa graduated from Clemson University in 2001 with a degree in Business and Marketing and is married to the former Deborah Maria Nunes. He has a daughter Nina Rose, who was born in January of 2012 and a son Luca Michael, who was born in June of 2015, both of whom attend the Montverde Academy.
Director of SIMA
Kevin Varnado joined the SIMA staff in August of 2014 after spending the previous two years with South Carolina's United Battery Academy. Prior to his time with South Carolina United, Varnado was the Head Soccer Coach at Francis Marion University in South Carolina, where he worked for five seasons from 2007 to 2011. Varnado also served as an assistant coach at Francis Marion for five seasons from 2002 to 2006 prior to his appointment to the head coaching position. During his tenure there, Varnado won two regular season conference championships in 2002 and 2008 and won a conference tournament title in 2008. The 2008 season included an appearance in the NCAA National Tournament where the Patriots reached the regional semi-final. The 2008 and 2009 seasons saw Varnado’s FMU team ranked among the top 25 in the United States.
Prior to FMU, Varnado served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, St. Andrews University in North Carolina for one season. He has served in several capacities within South Carolina Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program (ODP). Varnado holds a USSF “A” coaching license and was a three-year letter winner and two-year captain as a player at St. Andrews University where he amassed first team all-conference honors.
Varnado is the SIMA Director of College Placement and a SIMA Staff Coach.
SIMA Associate Director/Academic Affairs
Caroline Venceslau is a Brazilian-American member of the SIMA staff.
She joined SIMA as an intern during her senior year at the University of Florida in May of 2021 as a coordinator for the SIMA Summer Camps. Soon after, in July she took a permanent position as the Operations Coordinator.
Venceslau graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management and a Minor in Business Administration.
SIMA Operations Coordinator
Domenic Pultrone joined the SIMA coaching staff in 2019 after coaching the Tulsa Roughnecks FC in the USL Championship League and the TSC Hurricanes where he was a Coach and Technical Director. Coach Pultrone previously worked with the Pierrefonds Soccer Association in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he was the Director of Development and Head Coach of the Elite U21F/U16MAA teams. Coach Pultone has worked with several clubs in Canada over the years including the Association of Regional Soccer Rive Sud, ACP Soccer Academy, Lakeshore Soccer Club, Lachine Soccer Club Elite, and the Lac St. Louis Lakers Elite.
Coach Pultrone currently holds a UEFA A License and is fluent in English, French, and Italian. Before their arrival at Montverde Academy, Coach Pultrone worked with goalkeeper Marc Kouadio (U17 Canadian National Team player) and Olivier Correa (Jacksonville University commit). In 2013, Coach Pultrone was awarded Competitive Coach of the Year while his Lac St. Louis team won the Regional Championships. His teams also saw great recognition and achievement in 2004 and 2006.
SIMA Director of Methodology
Leopoldo Jimenez joined the SIMA program in 2017 and enjoys passing his experience and passion for the game to his SIMA student-athletes. Before joining SIMA, Coach Jimenez had a long 20-year professional career playing for teams in Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, and Russia while playing in the Copa America Paraguay in 1999, Copa America Colombia in 2001, Copa America Peru in 2004, and more. Coach Jimenez, a Venezuelan native, played 75 official matches with the Pro Venezuelan National Soccer Team. He was also named 2003 Soccer Player of the Year in Venezuela while captaining several successful teams.
Coach Jimenez has also been a radio special guest, TV soccer analyst, editor and columnist throughout his career to discuss soccer, the Venezuelan National Team and his professional career. Coach Jimenez currently holds a USSF “B” Coaching License from US Soccer and a Federation Venezolana de Futbol Coach C License.
SIMA Staff Coach
Carlos Pedraza experience includes an extensive professional futsal career. At Montverde Academy, he enjoys practicing his passion for coaching and youth development. As a native of Caracas, Venezuela, Coach Pedraza began his football education at a traditional Spanish club in the City of Deportivo Galicia. After playing for the club at the Under 20 level, Carlos transitioned into his futsal career while attending the Universidad Santa Maria for his college studies. His experience as a futsal player include playing for some of the most prestigious professional clubs in Venezuela.
Carlos holds a USSF “C” coaching license and a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration and Business from the Universidad Santa Maria and is a SIMA staff member working across all levels of the program to develop our student athletes technically, tactically, physically and socially for a life in elite sport.
SIMA Staff Coach
Andrew Douek-Pirotte is an American-born, Argentinian-raised soccer coach with multimedia experience in sports journalism. He has been around the sport since early childhood becoming a young assistant coach, accomplishing later the highest youth and professional coaching badges within the Argentine Football Association (AFA). He also played basketball and volleyball at a college level in Argentina. As a sports journalist he was a member of Círculo de Periodistas Deportivos de Buenos Aires (CPD) voting as a jury for the most important sport awards in Argentina, and was also a part of the prestigious International Sports Press Association (AIPS).
While working in Europe he specialized in youth development and scouting. On top of his media content and design tertiary degrees he is a certified International Professional Scouting Organization (IPSO) scout, completed methodology courses with entities like the Spanish Players Federation (AFE) and training sessions from the biggest club talent developers such as Dinamo Zagreb. His scouting videos and recommendations have allowed young players attain scholarships in the US and switch from non-league clubs to professional contracts.
Soccer has always been his biggest passion and with his experience around the world including the DA MLS academy level, he looks to help the United States soccer achieve its potential through the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy (SIMA) program.
Director of SIMA Pre-Academy and Social Media
Originally from Santiago, Chile, Coach Neira oversees the goalkeepers for SIMA. Coach Neira graduated from Midway University (KY) in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Sports Management.
As a goalkeeper in Chile, Coach Neira played at the youth level with Audax Italiano for six years and played for the U-17 and U-19 National Team. He was also on loan to Magallanes (2012) in the Primera B division where he had his first appearance with the first team for Copa Chile. He was then recruited to play collegiately in the United States. In his four seasons he achieved All-Conference First and Second team, All-Region Athlete, Daktronic Athlete of the Year, All-American Student-Athlete and Outstanding Student in Sports Management at Midway University.
Coach Neira currently holds a USSF D License, Level III Goalkeeping Development from United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA), as well as different Goalkeeping courses from Chile, Spain and Canada.
Before joining Montverde Academy, Coach Neira was a Goalkeeper Assistant Coach at his alma mater, Midway University, and helped with goalkeeper camps at Centre College and Bellarmine University. Also, Coach Neira is a former goalkeeping director for a DA MLS Academy and former head of goalkeepers for a USL team.
SIMA Director of Goalkeeping
Daniel Poe joined SIMA this past April of 2021. Originally joining the SIMA Pre-Academy program, Coach Poe has now joined the full SIMA program as a staff coach. Coach Poe graduated from Clemson University in December of 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Poe played for the Clemson Tigers from 2004 to 2008 under, current SIMA Director Coach Mike Potempa.
Before SIMA, Coach Poe was most recently the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Mercyhurst North East University from 2015 to 2020. Before coaching at the NJCAA level, Poe was an assistant at a number of colleges including Binghamton University (NCAA Div. 1), Penn State Behrend (NCAA Div.3), and St. Marys College of Southern Maryland (NCAA Div. 3). Coach Poe has also worked for several clubs/academies including, most recently, Erie Admirals (PA.) and previously with NY Red Bulls youth academy.
Coach Poe currently holds a United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) Premier diploma as well as a USC Goalkeeper II diploma and USC Director of Operations certification.
SIMA Staff Coach
Lawrence Olum joined SIMA for the 2021-22 academic year. His coaching experience before arriving to SIMA dates back to 2009 including positions at Willamete United and Portland Timbers.
Olum spent four years playing college soccer at Missouri Baptist University, earning NAIA honorable mention All-America honors three times. After graduating, Olum spent the 2006 season with the St. Louis Lions of the USL Premier Development League, scoring 9 goals in 16 games.
He turned professional with the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division in 2007, before moving to the Minnesota Thunder in March 2009. He later played for the Austin Aztex and Orlando City where he won the USL Cup, before moving to Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer in September 2011. He won the MLS Cup in 2013 and US Open Cup in 2012. Later continued to forge a soccer career including numerous starts for Portland Timbers and Minnesota United.
He was called up to the Kenya national team in November 2012 for the 2012 CECAFA Cup. Olum made his international debut in a 1–0 victory over Comoros in May 2014.
SIMA Staff Coach
Joshua Nascimento joined SIMA Pre-Academy on 2021 and after leading youth teams he became a SIMA full-time staff member.
Joshua has experienced the life a student-athlete at the University of Tampa being a part of their soccer team from 2015 to 2018. He also was part of one of the top academies in the world playing for the Santos (Brazil) youth setup from U17 to U20.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Performance and Exercise Physiology and achieved work experience as a fitness instructor and soccer coach in Greater Orlando soccer academies plus an internship at the Santos FC youth academy Physiology Dpt.
Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, he can also speak Italian.
SIMA Staff Coach