Rhett Soliday is back on the sidelines for his fourth season as the Head Coach of the Vanguard Men’s basketball program. In just his fourth year at the helm, Soliday led the Lions to the 2014 NAIA National Championship, in addition to the 2013-2014 GSAC regular season and conference tournament titles. For his efforts, Soliday was named the 2013-2014 Rawlings-NAIA Division I National Coach of the Year.
The 2013-2014 season was the finest campaign ever by a Vanguard/SCC Men’s Basketball program. The Lions finished 32-6, breaking the school record for wins and earning the program’s third GSAC regular season title, its first in 25 years. The Lions cruised through the GSAC Tournament, defeating Hope International 90-80 in the GSAC Tournament final on Fox Sports Network’s Prime Ticket, televised live in The Pit.
Vanguard earned an automatic bid to the 2014 NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, where Soliday and the sixth-seeded Lions proceeded to knock off Life (GA) in the first round. VU then defeated Benedictine (KS) in the Sweet-16, in the process taking the program deeper than it had ever been in the National Tournament. Vanguard continued to roll, beating Georgetown (KY) in the Elite-8 to earn the program’s first trip to the final four. To reach the championship game, the Lions rolled St. Gregory’s (OK) 108-88, advancing to the NAIA Championship game, televised nationally on ESPN3. Soliday and the Lions completed their historic run to the title by defeating Emmanuel (Ga.) 70-65 to win the program’s first National Championship. Vanguard’s Preston Wynne was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Chris Gorman joined him on the All-Tournament team. In addition, Soliday and the Lions won the Dr. James Naismith-Emil S. Liston Sportsmanship Award, displaying the Gold Pride-character of Vanguard Athletics.
In four seasons at VU, Soliday has amassed an overall record of 72-54. He has recruited and coached four NAIA All-Americans, 5 All-GSAC honorees, and 12 NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Soliday was selected as the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Vanguard University in April 2010. Soliday had served as an assistant coach at University of California, Irvine for four years and four years at Concordia University prior to the UCI assignment. Soliday's first experience with the Golden State Athletic Conference came as a player when he transferred to Concordia from Big Bend Community College. He joined the coaching ranks immediately after a successful two-year playing career for the Eagles, where he earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete and GSAC Player of the Week, among other awards. Becoming one of the youngest head assistants in the country at the time (22 years old), Soliday helped Head Coach Ken Ammann and the staff turn the Concordia men's basketball program into a national champion. He was the lead recruiter for the Eagles as well as carrying offensive and defensive duties on the court, scouting and game strategy, academic monitoring and mentoring, and strength and conditioning duties off the court. In his four-year term at CUI, the Eagles were the 2003 NAIA Champions, 2004 NAIA Runner-ups, 2005 GSAC Tournament Champions and 2005 NAIA Tournament participants.
Soliday moved on to the NCAA Division I level to join the staff of Head Coach Pat Douglass at UC Irvine, where he served as an assistant coach for the next four years. His recruiting efforts paid off once again as the Anteaters made it to the Big West Conference Tournament Championship game in 2008, for only the second time in school history. UCI was a BWC Tournament semifinalist in 2007 and a BWC Tournament participant in 2010, while finishing fourth in the BWC in 2009. In addition to recruiting, Soliday was active in every area of practice and instruction, as well as scouting opponents and game day preparation, and monitoring and mentoring players off the court.
"I feel honored and blessed to be the head coach at Vanguard," states Soliday. "All of my personal and professional development to this point has been geared toward being prepared for this opportunity. It's not just about being a head coach, but about working at an institution like Vanguard with the quality of leadership that makes it so special."
Aside from having extensive local and national recruiting connections, a positive passion and knowledge of the game, Soliday, CUI's 2002 Champion of Character Award winner, is a great fit for the basketball program and overall mission within Vanguard athletics and the entire institution.
"I couldn't be more excited about the challenge that lies ahead for the men's basketball program," Soliday continued. "What's great about the journey ahead is that not only will we get to mentor young men, but we get to do so with the support of an amazing community of believers who are fully committed to seeing each of them succeed and find significance in their lives."
Soliday is married to his high school sweetheart Kim, and they have two daughters and a son: Peyton, Lucy and Colton.
Brian "Boomer" Roberts is in his fourth season as the lead assistant coach for the VUSC men's basketball program. Roberts played an integral role in the Lions’ finest season in program history, helping Vanguard win the 2014 NAIA National Championship, along with the 2013-2014 GSAC regular season and conference tournament championships.
A student of the game and the son of a coach, Roberts' main duties include recruiting, scouting and game strategy, and assisting Soliday with the offense, along with on-court player development. Roberts works primarily with the guards and wings on individual skill training and improvement, specifically shooting and ball handling. Roberts also helps team conditioning and academic monitoring, and leads the program's Bible studies.
Boomer joined the Men's Basketball coaching staff in 2010 after two seasons serving as Russ Davis' lead assistant for the Vanguard Women's Basketball program. In his two seasons with the VU Women, Roberts helped the Lions to a 58-7 record and back-to-back Elite-8 finishes at the NAIA National Tournament. The Lions spent several weeks ranked No. 2 in the country, and never fell below fifth during Roberts' time as an assistant.
Roberts played four seasons for the VU men's basketball program from 2004-2008. A two-time GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete, Roberts was named Vanguard's Male Athlete Champion of Character as a senior. A pure shooter who scored 690 career points, he shot 42% from three-point range, making 155 treys in his 120-game career. Brian also tossed out 155 assists, playing an instrumental part in a pair of 20-win seasons and a trip to the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championships during his career. Giving back to the Vanguard program with his love for the sport of basketball, there is no doubt that Roberts plays a crucial role in the Lions’ return to the upper echelon of the GSAC
"I really believe that God is doing big things at Vanguard," says Roberts. "I am excited to play a small part in what He is doing. Vanguard is a home to me, and coaching is a great chance to impact the lives of our guys.”
Boomer graduated from Vanguard in the spring of 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and earned a Master's of Science in Coaching and Athletic Administration in 2013. Boomer and his wife, Brittney, a Vanguard alum, live in Costa Mesa with their newborn son, Griffin.
Vanguard men's basketball welcomed Kevin Heenan to the Lions' coaching staff in 2012. Heenan is currently working as an assistant under third-year head coach Rhett Soliday.
Heenan is very familiar with VU athletics, as three of his four children have played on Lions' sports teams. His son, Dennis, played on the men's basketball team and graduated in 2010 while his daughter Jamie was a standout volleyball player for the Blue and Gold and completed her degree in 2012. His youngest daughter Kelly is currently attending Vanguard and serves as the libero for the Pride volleyball team.
Coaching has always been a passion of Heenans. He led club and travel teams and provided one-on-one instruction for players for years before pursuing a gig with the VU men's team.
Coach Heenen played college ball at Cal State Fullerton from 1975-1979. After his collegiate career, he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 1979 NBA Draft. Heenan also played one season for Athletes in Action before playing professionally in Europe from 1980-1983.
Outside of basketball, Heenan works in real estate, where he specializes in residential finance, property management and investments. He is also the owner/operator of a food manufacturing facility that supplies amusement parks throughout the country with frozen food novelty items.
Heenan graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 1979 where he met his wife, Debbie, who was then a member of the CSUF basketball squad.
The couple resides in Costa Mesa Calif. Their eldest son's name is Ryan.