In only five years at the helm of the Samford University soccer team, head coach Todd Yelton has propelled the Bulldogs to national prominence. The winningest coach in Samford soccer history, he has led his team to four consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2005, Yelton's squad advanced past 19th-ranked Vanderbilt in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and became the first OVC team to reach the second round.
Since joining the OVC in 2003, the Bulldogs have compiled a 27-4-3 conference record and have reached the championship match of the OVC Tournament three times. Yelton was named the OVC Coach of the Year in 2003 and led Samford to its initial Soccer Buzz magazine Southeast Regional ranking before the 2004 season. One of the nation's top women's soccer coaches, Yelton holds a remarkable 61-26-14 overall record in five seasons at Samford. He became the school's all-time winningest coach during the 2005 campaign. On Sept. 9, 2005, he picked up the groundbreaking victory with a 1-0 win on the road against North Carolina State. The triumph helped Yelton surpass former coach Barry Spitzer and also was the Bulldogs' first victory against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A native of Piney Flats, Tenn., Yelton began a youth-based resurgence in the soccer program by bringing in 10 freshmen in 2002. The 2003 roster featured six freshmen and was named the 19th best recruiting class in the Southeast by Soccer Buzz, the first Samford freshman class to be recognized in that fashion. In 2004, he continued the trend by bringing in eight new players. Yelton's 2004 freshman class was named the 14th best recruiting class in the Southeast by Soccer Buzz and was ranked 79th in the nation. All four of Samford's most recent recruiting classes have been ranked among the top-100 teams in the nation.
Last season, Soccer Buzz Magazine tabbed the Bulldogs' 2006 recruits as the No. 85-ranked squad in the nation, while Samford's previous two classes came in at No. 91 and No. 79, respectively. Samford's highly touted 2005 recruiting class consisted of seven talented prep stars and was ranked 16th in the Southeast and 91st in the nation. The Bulldogs' 2007 recruiting class continued Samford's national prowess as the team's eight-player incoming freshman class was ranked No. 68 in the nation by Soccer Buzz Magazine. In five seasons under Yelton, Samford has posted 61 wins, nearly two-thirds of the program's 99 all-time victories. Since becoming head coach in 2002, Yelton's Bulldogs have knocked off Southeastern Conference opponents Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, Conference USA foes Memphis and Southern Miss, as well as ACC powerhouse North Carolina State. Yelton's Bulldogs have only lost one overtime match, posting an 8-1-14 mark in extra sessions.
Samford's domination of the OVC's postseason honors continued in 2006 as the Bulldogs finished with five players earning all-conference accolades. Senior Sharon Young received Player of the Year honors, while Amber Cress was named Freshman of the Year and Paige Lanter earned all-newcomer honors. Junior Heather Birdsell was named to the conference's First-Team, while Bohler received Second-Team accolades.
Yelton's first collegiate head coaching position was at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Ga., where he coached for four seasons, posting a 40-32-4 mark. In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Yelton recently was named to the Region III Olympic Developmental Program staff. His playing career began when he was a freshman at Tennessee Tech University. He then transferred to King College (Tenn.), where he was a two-year starter on defense. He earned his bachelor's degree in history from King College in 1991. In November 2015, Yelton’s wife, Shauna, passed away following an arduous battle with cervical cancer. Her memorial service was held in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, Ala. The couple has a daughter, MacKenzie, 21, and a son, Colin, 18.