With one of her two sons hanging on to her as she addressed the TWU faculty, staff and athletes at the school’s athletics banquet in late April, Fleur Benatar announced she was stepping down as head soccer coach to devote more of her time to her family. Benatar officially will step down Sunday.
“I want to thank TWU for an amazing 11 years and for giving me the ability to grow professionally as a coach and as a person,” Benatar said. “I will always be grateful to [athletic director] Chalese [Connors] for giving me the opportunity to start the soccer program at an exciting time for the university.”
After jump-starting the school’s soccer program in the fall of 2002, Benatar leaves on an uptick with the Pioneers battling through the Lone Star Conference to a record of 7-10-2, advancing to the LSC tournament for the fourth time.
“Fleur came to TWU when we had nothing but a recreational field and funding for four scholarships,” Connors said. “I knew I had an energetic young coach who was ready for the challenges associated with a startup program. She has always stayed focused on what was best for her players. I am forever thankful for her commitment to Texas Woman’s University. I understand that it’s time for a new chapter in her life, but she will be greatly missed.”
Benatar, an assistant at North Texas in 2000 and 2001 and player in 1996 and ’97, sports an overall record at TWU of 63-119-23. Forty-seven of her players have received All-LSC honors, with six earning All-South Central Region recognition.
Thirteen of Benatar’s players were named to the All-LSC Academic Team and 54 made the Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She coached back-to-back LSC Academic Players of the Year in Aly Vincent-Evans in 2008 and Jacqueline Horner in 2009.
“We have such outstanding student-athletes at this institution who are eager, bright students and fierce competitors,” Benatar said. “I am proud of what has been established and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow with more success than ever. My family is growing as well and the time is right for me to concentrate on them. But I’ve got to say that I will miss my team and being their coach.”
In her final fall season, TWU set a new team grade-point average high with a 3.566 that included six marks of 4.0.
Benatar also served on an NCAA regional advisory committee, as a panelist for future NCAA coaches, and was invited to be a guest instructor at an NCAA Youth Education through Sports clinic. She has coached at the club level and with Olympic Development Program teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
A Richardson graduate, Benatar played soccer for two seasons at Arkansas before transferring to UNT, where she received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 1999 and her master’s degree in kinesiology 2002.
A reception for Benatar will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the athletics lobby of Pioneer Hall, Suite 220.