MIKE SOLIVEN: Celebrating One of Brevard’s Best Teachers, As Coach Won More Than 500 Games at Melbourne High
By Space Coast Daily // July 30, 2022
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Elisa Murphy, vice president of a local Truist Bank branch, was invited to speak for the second time in the classroom of high school English teacher Michael Soliven, she knew she was working with a special person.
Soliven is not your average teacher. He instills students at Melbourne High School with knowledge above and beyond his classroom curriculum. He invited Murphy and her colleague to come into his classroom and teach his students important financial knowledge about banking, credit, and more, but it doesn’t stop there.
A former basketball coach at Mel High, Soliven is known for making sure his students learn life skills they might not have the opportunity to learn elsewhere.
Remember the panic of getting your first flat tire? There will be none of that for Soliven’s students. On a mini fieldtrip to the school parking lot, he teaches them how to change a tire. What’s more, He also teaches his students lessons about topics like cooking, grocery shopping, and taking care of a home.
Soliven’s work has been recognized by members of the community outside of Brevard Public Schools, and that alone says so much about the incredible job he is doing in the classroom.
Mike Soliven Inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2017
WATCH: Mike Soliven was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. The below profile was first published in May 2017.
2017 COACHING INDUCTEE
THE MAN WITH THE WHISTLE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Melbourne Bulldogs boys’ basketball coach Mike Soliven is without a doubt the humblest, most self-effacing inductee in this year’s Hall of Fame class and arguably in the five-year history of the ceremony.
Not wanting to take credit for any of his 512 career wins throughout his 27-year career, Coach Soliven says he’s just, “the man with the whistle.”
The son of Logi and Philleen Soliven, Mike grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and attended Episcopal School, where he played baseball for four years and basketball for two.
From there, Soliven attended the University of Florida where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in English in 1998, Masters in 1990 and met his wife of 25 years, Stephanie.
The Solivens are the proud parents of two daughters. Their oldest, Sarah, 21, will graduate from the United States Military Academy, and their youngest, Abagail, attends Melbourne High School where she is a ninth grader on the varsity softball team.
After graduating from UF in 1990, Soliven came to Melbourne High and began his coaching career, leading the Bulldogs girls’ varsity basketball team.
After winning 44 of his final 53 games for the lady Bulldogs, Soliven became the head coach for the boys’ varsity team.
They say people that are destined to do great things learn from people that have already accomplished them.
New to coaching, Soliven watched and learned from two coaches who combined to win over 1,300 games, appeared in 17 Final Fours and won five state titles between them, current Space Coast Sports Hall of Famers Mike Gaudy from Satellite and Astronaut’s Greg Hostetler.
Over the past 27 years, Soliven’s teams have won an average of 19 games per year and have appeared in two FHSAA Final Fours. He is the only coach to win a playoff basketball game at Melbourne.
When asking Soliven about his special memories, teams or players he repeatedly answers that all of them were special for so many different reasons.
He speaks of the 2010-11 team, which finished the season with just 11 wins, but somehow managed to fight through the tragic shooting death of their point guard Shaquille Farrie.
Soliven talked about the courage of Farrie’s brother, Jamie, who was a forward for him that season and put the team on his back, carrying them down the stretch to win their final five games of the year and make the post season.
Soliven doesn’t like to discuss his milestones, instead he prefers to talk about the players who are responsible for his success.
He notes there are too many to mention but does mention recent players like Noah Horchler, Austin Awad and Logan Folsom, who were all big contributors on this year’s record setting Eastern Florida State Titans basketball team.
He mentioned one of his first standouts, Al Spivey, who earned All-Space Coast Player of the Year honors after leading the Bulldogs to the Cape Coast Conference title in 1995.
CREATED RICH TRADITION AT MEL-HI
No story better describes how humble and quiet Coach Soliven is than when he recorded his 400th career win. For two days, only those closest to Soliven knew of the accomplishment until athletic director Fred Keeney computed the numbers and figured it out.
On January 12, 2017 the Bulldogs defeated Liberty High 60-56 for Soliven’s 500th win.
Keeney made sure the world knew this time and honored his coach by hanging a sign in the gym recognizing the career accomplishment. Soliven’s players always know where they stand and they know the Melbourne Bulldog way.
Attention to detail, giving your best effort on and off the floor and knowing that you represent someone and something 24 hours a day are just part of what it takes to play for Coach Soliven.
When Soliven was asked if one game stands out above them all, he replied, “The final one of the season. If we didn’t win our final game of the year that loss sticks with me for nine months. I’ll be thinking about our loss to Sickles until October, last year it was Blanche Ely in the Final Four.”
Soliven says, “I’m just happy I’ve been able to keep the basketball tradition at Melbourne going,” not even realizing that the basketball tradition he speaks of at Mel-High, is the one he created.
And whether he knows it or not, his program, like coach Gaudy’s and Hostetler’s at the time he arrived, is now the gold standard for Brevard County basketball.
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