Jan. 15, 2010
PHILADELPHIA -- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced the 2009 NAIA Men's Soccer Coach of the Year awards, presented at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Convention on Friday. The 2009 Brine-NAIA Men’s Soccer National Coach of the Year is Jim Rickard of The Master’s College (Calif.) and the 2009 NSCAA-NAIA Men’s Soccer National Coach of the Year is Ray Wells of Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.).
Rickard led his Mustangs to a national runner-up finish in Fresno, Calif. He wrapped up his 19th season and improved his record to 240-135-35 (.628). The Master’s battled national champion Lindsey Wilson to a 1-0 loss in the final and the appearance marked the first-ever Championship game in school history. With a 19-3-3 overall record, the Mustangs finished one win shy of tying a school record. The Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Tournament champions were seeded No. 15 in the national championship and rolled through its first four games, outscoring its opponents 5-1 including three shutouts.
"It's an unbelievable award, and one that reflects not only myself but the whole team,” Rickard said. “It's a tremendous honor to be the first to receive it from The Master's. It reflects not only what one individual has done, but it reflects the commitment of the college to our team."
Rickard mentored two All-American’s this year, senior goalkeeper Kevin Lawson and junior midfielder Jake Marchesani. Lawson was honored on the First Team, while Marchesani was a Second Team pick. The Mustangs were a hot team at the end of the year, going 8-0-2 heading into the title game on Dec. 6. As a defensive unit, The Master’s held 14 opponents scoreless.
As a player in the late ‘80s, Rickard helped lead the Mustangs to 57 victories, three postseason berths and a pair of National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national championships during a sterling four-year career. He was named a NAIA All-American and an All-Far West selection in 1987 and 1989, a NAIA All-District III choice all four years and the Defensive MVP of the 1987 NCCAA National Tournament.
After earning a degree in Business Administration, Rickard immediately became an assistant coach for the Mustangs, helping the squad to its first-ever NAIA National Tournament appearance in 1990. One year later, Rickard took over as head coach and currently stands with a school-record 240 wins.
Wells wins his seventh national coach of the year honor in 20 seasons of coaching at Lindsey Wilson. After a 20-2-1 National Championship season, Wells’ record stands at 386-63-21 (.844) overall. He has led the Blue Raiders to eight titles, the second-most of any NAIA program in the 51-year history, after a 1-0 win over The Master’s. His team held 16 out of 23 opponents scoreless on the year and ended on a 12-match winning streak. Under his supervision, the Blue Raiders were honored with three NAIA All-Americans, First Team selections Lebogang Maloto and Chris Ochieng, and Second Teamer Chris Williams.
“It’s obviously a tremendous honor to be recognized,” Wells said. “But at the same time this award is more of a tribute to our program, our institution and the Lindsey Wilson College administration for their support of me personally and professionally.
“This year’s team was terrific all season and an absolute pleasure to work with on a daily basis. Their hard work and unselfishness throughout the season ultimately led to this honor. I’m humbled and grateful and share this award with our team and Lindsey Wilson College.”
Wells has been at the head of one of the nation’s elite programs since 1990. With a 40-9-4 playoff record in 17 all-time tournament appearances, the Blue Raiders have never lost in the title game going 8-0. His teams have posted lengthy winning streaks through the years including a NAIA-record 28-game stretch during the 1998-99 seasons. Since the inception of the soccer program in 1990, the Blue Raiders have lost just two conference games. Wells' teams have posted an 88-2-3 (.962) record in conference regular season games, including 16 consecutive postseason conference tournament titles.
Prior to becoming a coach, Wells was a standout collegiate player at Appalachian State University (N.C.), earning All-Southern Conference honors in 1981. After earning his bachelor's degree in 1982, Wells was hired as assistant men's soccer coach at Georgia Southern University. He spent one season as an assistant before being elevated to the head coaching post in 1983, leading the Eagles to an 11-12-3 record in two seasons.
Counting his two seasons at Georgia Southern, Wells’ college coaching record stands at 397-75-24 (.825) in 22 years. During his first nine years at Lindsey Wilson, Wells was also the school’s athletic director, where he oversaw the development of 13 new sports programs.
2009 Brine-NAIA Men’s Soccer National Coach of the Year
Jim Rickard – The Master’s (Calif.) College
2009 NSCAA-NAIA Men’s Soccer National Coach of the Year
Ray Wells – Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College
** Note – some bio information courtesy of school’s Sports Information Departments