Richard Jata signs pro contract with Wilmington Hammerheads

Former Campbell All-American Richard Jata has signed a contract with the United Soccer Leagues Pro Division Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads for the 2011 season.

Jata moved to Wilmington after finishing his first year as a volunteer assistant coach with the Fighting Camel soccer program in 2010 while he completed his degree in communication studies.

A second-team All-America choice by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and first-team All-South Region pick, Jata played a vital role for the 2008 Fighting Camel squad that won its second A-Sun regular season championship and made its third trip to the league final in the four years.

He was selected by the Chicago Fire in the fourth round of the 2009 Major League Soccer draft, at number 58 and spent the summer of 2010 playing with the Carolina Dynamo of the USL PDL.

In addition to his All-America and All-South honors, Jata was named 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference player of the year and added first-team all-conference honors for the third-straight season.

Jata was also named Campbell University's 2008-2009 Outstanding Male Athlete of The Year. The native of Port Richey, Fla., scored a career-high 28 points in 17 matches on 12 goals and four assists to lead the A-Sun goals (0.71) and points (1.65) per game.

Jata ranked 15th nationally in goals per game and 19th in points per outing and tied the A-Sun record with seven game-winning goals. He scored in each of his last nine games of 2008 and provided the winner in seven of those outings, while adding A-Sun all-tournament team honors in each of his final two seasons to his list of accomplishments.

During Jata's three-year career in Buies Creek, Campbell posted a 20-1-1 record in games when he scored, 8-1-0 in 2008. He finished his career with 12 game-winning goals, second-most in league history. In only 57 career games, Jata collected 71 points (15th in school history) on 28 goals and 15 assists. He was a second-team All-South pick in both 2006 and 2007.

Before transferring to Campbell, he led Furman University in scoring during 2004 with four goals and three assists over 17 games and he was named by CollegeSoccer.com as one of the nation's top 100 freshmen. A graduate of Ridgewood High School, Jata earned all-state honors, 2003-04 Sunshine Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Tampa Tribune Pasco County Player of the Year and all-conference recognition. Jata also played at IMG Academy, trained with the U.S. U-17 national team, and played for the Clearwater Chargers club and Florida state and Region III ODP teams.

Jata is the latest in a long line of former Campbell players to suit up for the Hammerheads, joining Buddy Edwards, Matt Harrison, Mathew Hooker, Brian Hunter, Andrew Maughan, John Payne and Nildo Schubert.

The Hammerheads open the 2011 USL PRO season on Sat., Apr. 11 at home against the Rochester Rhinos.

USL PRO will feature three five-team divisions in 2011 - American, National and International. The National Division will feature the Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, FC New York, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Rochester Rhinos. The American Division contains the Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Orlando City, the Richmond Kickers and the Wilmington Hammerheads. Barracuda FC of Antigua and Barbuda, the Los Angeles Blues, Puerto Rico United, River Plate Puerto Rico and Sevilla FC Puerto Rico will feature in the International Division.

Teams will play 24 games in the 2011 season, facing each team in their division at least once at home and once on the road.

Designed to help ensure the long-term stability of professional soccer in North America below MLS, USL PRO will benefit from national television and online broadcast packages. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO will feature an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience in 2011, and more than 100 years of combined operational experience.

To follow Jata's progress on-line, visit www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com.