Head Coach TJ Buchholz
Head coach TJ Buchholz’s plan to return the Toledo Rockets back to prominence in the Mid-American Conference came to fruition in 2017 as he led UT to its first conference title since 2011. Now in his fourth year, Buchholz has cemented a culture that should keep the Rockets in the title chase for years to come.
The Start of a New Era
Buchholz arrived at Toledo in 2015 with the intention to turn the once-powerful program back into a regular title contender, and it didn’t take long for the results to reflect the changes taking place in the program. The Rockets finished the 2015 season on a three-game winning streak that punched their ticket to the MAC Tournament. The rebuilding process continued into 2016 and culminated with a 12-8-3 record (6-3-2 MAC) in 2017 that earned UT the No. 3 seed in the MAC Tournament. Toledo knocked off Western Michigan, Ball State and Bowling Green by identical 2-1 scores to take the MAC title, UT’s final two victories coming in overtime. The season was topped off by Toledo making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and its first since 2011.
Buchholz’s side returns the bulk of the roster that produced last season’s championship, and is led by veterans and young guns alike. All-MAC Freshman goalkeeper Madison Perrin returns to her spot between the sticks, and senior captain Hannah Scafaria will look to replicate her 18-point junior season (eight goals, two assists). Those leaving the program include Isa Echeverri who was named First Team All-MAC, becoming the first player in program history to be honored as an all-conference player in each of her four seasons. Echeverri was also named to a pair of all-region teams in her final two seasons at UT.
In addition to their success on the field, the team continues to uphold a high standard of academic excellence in the classroom. The Rockets have achieved a team GPA of better than 3.5 in every semester since Buchholz became head coach, including a department-best 3.679 team GPA in the fall of 2016. For the 2017 season, 13 Rockets made the Academic All-MAC Team, the highest in the Mid-American Conference. Additionally, seven of Buchholz’ student-athletes have been honored as distinguished scholar athletes by the MAC in the three seasons he’s been at Toledo.
A Consistent Winning Culture
Success and winning are the norm for Buchholz, who has recorded more than 200 wins in 16 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level. Buchholz’s achievements also include the distinction of taking teams to the national tournament at the NAIA, NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division I levels.
Prior to coming to Toledo, Buchholz served as the head coach at Southwest Minnesota State for four seasons. Buchholz inherited a 1-11-4 squad from the 2010 season. He quickly laid the foundation during his first two seasons, producing a 5-10-1 record in 2011, the program’s highest victory total since 2004, and improving again in 2012, finishing with a 7-9-1 mark.
In 2013, SMSU reached new heights by earning a berth into the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history. The Mustangs earned two postseason victories along the way, defeating No. 1 seed Minnesota State to snap the Mavericks’ 36-match home winning streak and advance to the NCAA ‘Sweet 16.’ SMSU wrapped up the year with a school-record 16 wins and was ranked No. 18 in the Top 25 poll. For the squad’s efforts on the pitch, Buchholz was tabbed the NSIC Coach of the Year.
SMSU had six players garner all-conference accolades in 2013. SMSU also had five players earn all-region laurels in 2013.
Buchholz posted a record of 38-32-5 in four years at NCAA Division II SMSU, including 29-24-5 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and helped the Mustangs establish 17 school records during his stay.
Buchholz came to SMSU after spending one year (2010) as assistant women’s soccer coach at NCAA Division I California-Riverside.
Prior to his stint at UC-Riverside, Buchholz spent two seasons (2008-09) as the head women’s and men’s soccer coach at NCAA Division III Wartburg (Iowa) College and seven seasons (2001-08) as head coach of the men’s program at Northwestern (Iowa) College. He also served one season as the Northwestern College head women’s soccer coach (2007).
During his two seasons as Wartburg’s women’s head coach, the team compiled a 31-5-4 overall record, won the program’s first-ever conference championship in 2008 and achieved the first-ever national ranking in 2009. He led the Wartburg men’s team to a pair of conference tournament championships, two NCAA Championship appearances and an overall ledger of 31-10-2. In the classroom, both programs received NSCAA Team Academic Awards in 2008 and 2009.
Prior to arriving at Wartburg, Buchholz was at the helm of the men’s soccer program at Northwestern College for seven seasons, recording a record of 68-59-5. During his tenure, the Red Raiders won one conference title, advanced to four NAIA region tournaments, won the 2007 championship and secured a spot in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time in program history. He was named the 2007 NAIA Region Coach of the Year. Buchholz began his coaching career in 2000, spending one season as the assistant men’s coach at Northwestern College. He also served as the head women’s soccer coach at Northwestern during the 2007 season, leading the squad to a 7-10-1 ledger.
A native of San Bernardino, Calif., Buchholz earned a B.A. in sociology from Northwestern (Iowa) College in 1999 and earned his master’s degree in sports management from California University of Pennsylvania in 2008. Buchholz and his wife Candace have three daughters, Season, Chloe, and Sophie.