POPLARVILLE — The Pearl River women’s soccer program is set to enter into a new era with the hiring of Henrik Madsen as the team’s new head coach.
The hire was confirmed by the school board on Tuesday. Madsen replaces Jack Byrd, who resigned last month after a decade at his alma mater to lead the Mississippi University for Women program.
“We are thrilled to welcome Henrik and Jennifer, along with Teddy, Iben, and Bailey, to the PRCC family,” Pearl River Athletics Director Jeff Long said. “Henrik is a tremendous coach who has won championships in both women’s and men’s high school soccer. Henrik was also a tremendous player on the collegiate level and has experience coaching women on the collegiate level.
“Most of all, Henrik has a reputation as a great leader of student-athletes on the field and off the field. We look forward to continued success from our women’s soccer program with Henrik at the helm.”
Madsen comes to Pearl River fresh off of leading Gulfport to back-to-back MHSAA Class 6A State Championships. The Denmark native has three MHSAA state championships to his resume, plus another title from his time at Dominican High in New Orleans.
“Coaching college has always been something we thought about but with family time it was hard to figure out. I think we’re in a good spot now. After my time at Gulfport, fresh off of two state championships, it was a good time,” he said. “Junior college jobs never come open, and when Pearl River happened to come open, I thought it was well worth the time to explore and see if they’d be interested in me coming up to coach.
“This is the premier junior college program in the state in my mind, so as far as applying for the job it was an easy decision for us.”
A native of Denmark, Madsen brings a diverse soccer background to Poplarville.
Madsen got his coaching start at Dominican High in New Orleans, where he won a championship in 2007 and was named the Louisiana High School Coach of the Year the same season. Following the 2008 season Madsen joined the staff at William Carey University. The Crusaders made their first Elite 8 appearance with Madsen serving as Danny Owens’ assistant, mostly working with strikers.
In 2009, Madsen joined the Gulfport School District as a teacher and a year later took over as head coach of the Admirals’ boys soccer program. During the next nine seasons, Madsen built a 136-51-15 overall record with state championships in 2010, ’18 and ’19. Following the Admirals’ most recent state title, which saw GHS climb to No. 5 in MaxPreps.com’s national rankings, Madsen was named the Mississippi Association of Coaches Coach of the Year.
Madsen credited his success at GHS to having complete student athletes combined with an unwavering belief in their system.
“The last few years have been amazing. In part because winning is always good, but the fact we won playing the style of soccer me and my assistant coach were so hard headed about was really a nice thing to see. It was good to see you could win by playing soccer the right way,” Madsen said. “Obviously the kids (were the most important part). We had super talented kids. They were really into it and bought into the program.
“There wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do on the field and off the field so there were never any issues.”
Overlapping with his time at William Carey and GHS, Madsen, who has a United States Soccer Federation B License, has also been the Assistant Director of Coaching at Gulf Coast United FC since 2008. Part of his responsibilities with GCU included partnering with other organizations to challenge his players by sending local athletes to train with international professional clubs. He also ran summer and specialty camps and developed training programs, while leading his teams to two National Tournament berths.
Last January, Madsen was named the head coach of Port City FC, a men’s club in the Gulf Coast Premier League, and promptly led the Sounders to the franchise’s first GCPL title.
“Hopefully having dealt with the older players at Port City and having coached at William Carey for a year and dealing with my boys and girls teams has prepared me to deal with all of the personalities we’ll see,” he said.
STYLE OF PLAY
His style of play will largely depend on his roster once the Lady Wildcats break for preseason camp, but he hopes to continue to play what he describes as an “attractive and possession based” brand of soccer that’s made him successful at every level.
“Obviously I’m going to base it around the kind of players we have,” he said. “We were hard headed about it at Gulfport. We wanted to play an attractive, possession style of soccer.
“That’s what I like to do, entertain, while also hopefully doing some winning.”
The Lady Wildcats have won five state championships in the program’s history, with the last coming in 2015. PRCC finished last season 8-8-1, including a playoff victory over Itawamba.
Madsen and his wife, Jennifer, have three children: Teddy, 17; Iben, 14; and Bailey, 10.