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Club Staff

Club Director - Mike Sweeney

There are very few professional athletes that are as accomplished in soccer as Mike. He began his professional career in the North American Soccer League with the Edmonton Drillers in 1979, playing against superstars like Pele and Beckenbauer. During his 20 years as a pro, he represented Canada in the 1984 Olympic games and the 1986 World Cup. He competed in over 100 international games, with his country, and has virtually traveled the world playing soccer.

Mike's passion is soccer and he is dedicated to sharing his love for the sport of soccer with the youth in his program. He is a FIFA licensed coach with over 20 years coaching experience. He has assisted hundreds of young players in their dreams of becoming college players, and to the select few the opportunity of playing professionally.  Mike's current credentials include:

  • Director and Founder of The Cleveland Whitecaps since 1996
  • US Club Soccer Executive Board Member
  • I.D.2 program scout 
  • Director, All Star Soccer Camps, since 1989
  • President of CASA (Cleveland Alliance Soccer Assoc).
  • Managing Partner Alliance Soccer Dome, LLC 
  • Director of Over 50 World Cup Tournament

Director of Coaching - Joel Santiago

Joel was born in Lisboa, Portugal and was fortunate to live a stone's throw from Sporting Portugal's stadium and world famed academy.

First as a youth player and later as a coach, he was able to witness and experience first hand the development process of one of the best soccer academies worldwide. After moving to NY to pursue his film studies and working on TV/Film industry for almost 10 years he was lured back to the beautiful game, excited about the growth of soccer in the US and it's potential.

Started with the NY Red Bulls and then joined the largest youth club in NY state and finally is now in Cleveland, ecstatic to have the opportunity to use his european soccer experience, mixed with his knowledge and experience of the american soccer player and it's culture, to raise even more the level and quality of the whitecaps youth academy.

An avid student of the game, his favorite hobbies are Film and reading, specially soccer academic papers. 


Grace Sweeney

Mike Sweeney introduced Grace to soccer in 1986 and it was love at first kick.  Since that time, they began many different soccer related businesses which included, soccer retail stores, a professional D 3 outdoor team - "The Cleveland Caps", All Star Soccer Camps,the Cleveland Whitecaps Premier Soccer Club, and Over 50 World Cup tournaments.  Stay tuned, a new venture is bound to begin soon.

As Club Administrator, her duties include managing the team managers, corporate accounting, and club merchandise.  Her business sense allows her to juggle many hats at once and still advise on the Booster Club board, and help plan fun events for the Whitecaps families.

Grace was born in Poland but grew up in Cleveland, spending most of her youth playing a variety of sports.  She was a competitive gymnast and coached, and managed clubs for over 15 years.  A Cleveland State Graduate, with a BA in Marketing, she resides in Independence with husband Mike.

Julia Balodis - Club Administrator

Julia played soccer since she was 4 years old She played on Varsity for four years at Holy Name High School and then went to play for Cleveland State University in 2012. She started coaching camps and goalies with CAPS FC in 2012. She was also head JV and assistant varsity girls soccer coach for 4 years at Holy Name High School and now is coaching Lakewood High School girls soccer.  Stay tuned, a new venture is bound to begin soon.

As Club Administrator, her duties include managing the team managers, corporate accounting, and club merchandise.  Her business sense allows her to juggle many hats at once and still advise on the Booster Club board, and help plan fun events for the Whitecaps families.

Julia was born and raised in Parma, Ohio spending most of her youth playing a variety of sports.  She was a competitive soccer player and coached.  A Cleveland State Graduate, with a BA in Graphic Design and minor in Marketing, she also enjoys designing work for the club including logos, tshirts, fliers & social media advertisements.


Patrick Sweeney - Coach

Pat Sweeney is currently the Woman's Assistant Coach at Kent State University.  A veteran of the Northeast Ohio Premier club soccer scene, Sweeney held positions as Director of Coaching for the Whitecaps and has been selected "Coach of the Year" many times.   Sweeney also spent six years coaching with the East-West Soccer Club where he instructed various age groups along with coordinating arrangements for international travel and summer camps.

Since 1987, the 24-year NSCAA member has served as an Olympic Development coach for the Ohio Youth Soccer Association. In 1997, he joined the United States Youth Soccer Region II Olympic Development Program and has been a member of the girls and boys coaching staff for the past 11 years. In 2011, he was a Region II ODP staff coach for the girls 95 age group. In addition to his ODP experience, 

The British Columbia, Canada,  native was named the 1996 Greater Cleveland Public High School Coach of the Year at Shaker Heights while also picking up Lake Erie League COY honors. He then earned the Greater Cleveland Private High School COY award in 2000 with the Hawken School when he lead the team to a state championship and was a two time Chagrin Valley Conference COY in 2000 and 2001. In 2005 he guided his Whitecaps 91/92 Girls team to the Super Y League National Championship and one year later took a 91/92 Girls team to a US Club Soccer Region A Championship. A student of the game, Sweeney has a NSCAA Advanced Diploma and holds an A level coaching license with the United States Soccer Federation as well as a USSF National Youth license. Following his graduation from Howe Secondary School, the Vancouver native played three seasons for the Cleveland Force Reserve MISL Professional Team before moving on to Cleveland State University. 

Pat and his wife Terri, have a daughter Shayla and a son Keenan. Sweeney earned a bachelor's degree of general studies and a masters degree in Recreational Management.  


Eric Lapsansky - Boys Coach & Goalie Trainer

Eric Lapsansky is entering his nineteenth season with the Cleveland Whitecaps.  Eric has coached the majority of years with the high school boys and has directed the goalkeepers through his tenure.  He has coached on the girls side also, as well as the u14s the past five seasons.  

Eric also coaches collegiately for the CWRU Spartans’ as an Assistant Coach/goalkeeper coach.   Lapsansky also was apart of the CWRU men's and women's coaching staff, from 1998-2000.

  A 12-year high school coaching veteran who was tabbed as the NSCAA/OSCAA Ohio Coach of the Year in 2004, Eric entered his first season, 2011, as an assistant coach at Cleveland State. He will work mainly with the goalkeepers.

Lapsansky was the head coach of the girls soccer team at Brecksville - Broadview Hts High school for 12 years. Compiling a 142-57-26 record highlighted by a No. 23 national ranking in 2004. He led the Lady Bees to a top 10 state finish eight times and was a six-time conference coach of the year, earning Greater Cleveland Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and 2007.
 
Since 1998 he has been the goalkeeping director and instructor for soccer camps at the College of Wooster, and from 1998-200 he held the position of Ohio North Goalkeeping Coach at the Ohio Youth Soccer Association North Olympic Development Program.
 
 He briefly played with the Cleveland Caps of the United States Indoor Soccer League in 1996 before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at Chagrin Falls High.
 
In 1991, he earned his BA in Elementary Education at Willmington University. In addition to his coaching positions/passions, Eric currently teaches Social Studies at the Brecksville Middle School. Eric has two boys, Gavin and Jake, and reside in Brecksville.

Currently, Eric leads goalkeeper training and development for the Cleveland Whitecaps and is looking forward to start his goalie academy at our new state of the art facility.


Reni Lawrence - Coach

Reni played for Ashland University Women's Soccer Team, Ashland, Ohio 1995 - 1998.  She and her team appeared in NCAA Division II playoffs Final Four 98.

Her vast coaching experience includes:  

Head Coach Lake Erie College - 2016 -

Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio, NCAA Division III  August 2007-2011.  

Men’s and Women’s Soccer Assistant and Senior Women’s Administrator for Myers University, Cleveland Ohio, NAIA  May 2006-May 2007.

Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio, NAIA 2000-2006

She has been a staff coach with the Cleveland Whitecaps for over a decade. She currently holds a Level C USSF coaching certification.
Reni also has her own successful Personal Trainer business.

 



Karol Boryka - Coach

Karol Graduated from Brecksville-Broadview Hts, High School in 2010.  He has completed his English and Professional Writing Bachelor Degree from John Carroll University, and is Currently working on MBA 

His playing background includes:  All-Greater Cleveland Goalkeeper for Brecksville-Broadview Hts High School .
Goalkeeper at National finalists Notre Dame College in 2010-2011.
Transferred to John Carroll University and played midfield from 2011-2015.
After that Karol embarked on a european adventure that saw him experience playing on Poland's lower leagues.

He has been coaching with the Whitecaps for the past 6 years.  He started doing goalkeeper training, eventually progressing to footskills training and team practices. He is now a head coach.  He is a student of the game and some of his coaching credentials include, a USSF D License;  Goalkeeper level 1 and level 2 Licenses; LaLiga Formation Methodology coaching course.

Karol is currently working on his Masters Degree and resides in Brecksville.


Tim Tsirambidis - Coach

Just like the overwhelming majority of our coaches, Tim has been with the club for more than a decade and also came from High School coaching.

His love for the game and passion for human development make him an unvaluable asset for the club and more importantly for the community.

 

 

Eric Sokol - Coach

Eric Sokol grew up in Western Pennsylvania playing club soccer for some of the best clubs in Ohio. Eric also played for the PA West ODP program for 8 consecutive years. He attended the US Club National Championships  and was on the first PA West ODP team to attend the US Youth ODP National Championships. 

Eric played for the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets at the NCAA Division 3 level. He was a varsity letter winner all four years. Eric played as a defensive center midfielder and center back. He was on the first Baldwin Wallace University team to attend the NCAA DIII National Championships in the 2011-2012 season. After a successful college career Eric turned to coaching and we were lucky to have him join our experienced staff.

As a coach, Eric received his USSF E License in September 2017. He is planning to sit for his National D license spring of 2018.

Eric is committed to player development and is currently successfully coaching our younger age group.