Feb. 13, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina first-year head football coach Mark Speir today completed his inaugural coaching staff with the addition of Steve Sisa, who was named as the defensive secondary coach. Sisa (pronounced SEE-suh) comes to Cullowhee after spending the past two years on staff at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, most recently working with the Tar Heel safeties.
Speir also announced that linebackers coach Curtis Walker will fulfill the role of defensive coordinator, a position he held for 10 seasons at Coastal Carolina prior to coming to Cullowhee. Walker was hired at WCU in late January.
"We are extremely excited to get Steve Sisa on board here at Western Carolina. He brings a great wealth of knowledge and experience of defensive secondary play to our program," said Speir. "He has been a part of a high profile university like North Carolina, as well as, a blue-collared program like Southern Mississippi. He is a bright young secondary coach that will be a great teacher for our players and an asset to our University."
Sisa made the move to North Carolina in 2010 to work in player development with the UNC football program. He was promoted by interim head coach Everett Withers to safeties coach before the start of the 2011 season, helping guide UNC to the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
Under Sisa's tutelage last year, the Tar Heel safeties accounted for six of North Carolina's 14 interceptions and forced five of the 13 fumbles on the year. Sophomore safety Tre Boston picked off three passes with two fumble recoveries and five passes defended while junior Gene Robinson and senior Matt Merletti - who tallied a pair of interceptions against Virginia - both forced a pair of fumbles apiece in 2011.
Prior to North Carolina, Sisa served two seasons (2008-09) as a graduate assistant at Southern Mississippi with the Golden Eagles making back-to-back appearances in the New Orleans Bowl during his tenure. Sisa helped tutor the Southern Miss secondary under defensive coordinator Todd Bradford and head coach Larry Fedora. He was also responsible for opponent scouting reports, scout team film study and practice scripts.
A native of Manassas, Va., Sisa got his start at the collegiate ranks as a quality control coach at the University of Illinois in 2007 where he worked primarily with the team's linebackers. Illinois was 9-3 that season and advanced to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1984.
A linebacker at perennial Division III power Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va., in 1997, Sisa's career was cut short by a shoulder injury. He transferred to Virginia Tech where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 2001. He received a master's degree in sports management in 2009 from Southern Miss.
Following his graduation from Virginia Tech, Sisa began his coaching career at Ed White High School in Jacksonville, Fla., under head coach Dan Disch, previously the defensive coordinator at Southern Miss and now at North Carolina. Sisa worked as the secondary coach in 2003 and the defensive coordinator from 2004-06. He additionally served as the team's NCAA recruiting liaison for prospective student-athletes and also was the Shrine Bowl defensive coordinator in 2006.
Sisa is married to the former Lisa Taylor of Jacksonville, Fla., who is a school teacher in Durham.
The Catamount football team is scheduled to open its annual spring drills on Monday, March 12 with the NCAA-mandated 15 practices to be spread over five weeks. Practice will culminate with a spring event on Saturday, April 14 in Cullowhee.