A former Wheaton College coach has worked out well for Greater Atlanta Christian football. The Norcross private school’s administration hopes the same happens with its girls soccer program.

GAC announced Thursday that it has hired current Wheaton (Ill.) men’s soccer head coach Mike Giuliano as its new head girls soccer coach. He takes over a Spartans team that just won the Class AA state championship in the last season under Troy Bendickson, who stepped down to continue his late father’s ministry work.

Tim Hardy, GAC’s head football coach, also coached at Wheaton for nine seasons before moving to Gwinnett. Giuliano will coach the upcoming 2014 fall season at Wheaton before joining the GAC staff in January.

“I love to teach, I love to mentor and disciple players and students, and I love to coach championships,” Giuliano said. “The exciting new challenge at Greater Atlanta Christian will allow me to do all three day in and day out. From the moment I walked on the GAC campus, I knew that I had found another school with the same commitment to excellence as Wheaton.

“Troy Bendickson has set the bar high for this program and I will do everything in my power to continue his legacy of championships and changed lives.”

Giuliano, who took over the Wheaton men’s program in 2007, has a 99-38-18 record at the school. He has a career record of 359-142-50, including stints with the women’s soccer programs at San Diego State (three years) and Westmont College (11 years) and the men’s program at Trinity College (five years).

He has been named the NSCAA/Adidas Coach of the Year four times, has been conference coach of the year 12 teams and has won four NAIA national titles, as well as 26 conference championships, in women’s soccer. He also has 28 years of teaching experience at Trinity College, Westmont College, the Pepperdine School of Law and Wheaton.

His long career and travels played a part in his selection of GAC.

“Leading the men’s soccer program at Wheaton has been one of the great privileges of my life,” Giuliano said. “This is the finest college and one of the finest soccer programs in the nation. I thought I would be the coach at Wheaton for the next 15 years, but God had other plans. My amazing wife Barbara has been following me around the country for over 30 years while I pursue my dreams, and now it is time for me to honor her dreams.

“In Atlanta, she will be involved with a great organization that develops and implements strategic ways to stop the human trafficking crisis. And what’s equally exciting is that it appears I will be able to be involved with the same organization in one of their programs that aims to challenge men to take a more public and activist stand to end trafficking locally and around the nation.”

Giuliano takes over a program that is one of the state’s best in girls soccer. The GAC girls have played in the past four state championship games, also winning the state title in 2012.

Bendickson began his GAC career as a boys assistant, but has been the head girls coach for the past 12 seasons. His career record at GAC was 171-54-7.

“Mike Giuliano will make a great addition to our faculty and coaching staff,” GAC senior high principal Scott Harsh said. “Mike’s collegiate experience coaching both men and women positions him well for his work with a very talented group of girls. We will dearly miss Coach Troy Bendickson both as a coach and as a leader in our school community, but I anticipate a very smooth transition as Troy passes the baton to Mike.

“Mike exhibits many of the same attributes we’ve loved about Troy, passion for the game, a gifted teacher and most importantly a man of deep faith. Mike understands he is inheriting a very strong program from Troy and we believe Mike will lead the team with excellence into the future.”