In about seven and a half months, summer will have once again faded into fall and students will flood back into the University of Mary Washington for another year of school. However, this annual ritual will be different than the last 34, as this will be the first one in nearly three and a half decades that will begin without men’s head soccer coach Roy Gordon.
Gordon, the only men’s soccer coach in UMW history, announced last week that he will retire after the Spring 2011 semester after 41 years of collegiate coaching.
“You just have a sense that it’s time,” Gordon said. “It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, making a decision if I should retire this year or wait one more year. With my wife retiring at the end of this year, it just seemed to fall in place.”
Gordon started at UMW in 1977 and built the men’s soccer program from the ground up. He had previously coached seven years at the University of Maine-Farmington and was brought to Fredericksburg by athletic director Ed Hegmann.
“He is the men’s soccer program,” Hegmann said. “From the time he got here he’s just worked so hard and built the program up from nothing.”
In his college coaching career, Gordon amassed a 432-253-53 record, 386 of those wins tallied as Eagles head coach, and he is in an elite group of just eight coaches at the Division III level to ever reach the 400-win plateau. In his 34 years at UMW, he was an eight-time CAC Coach of the Year, a five-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America Regional Coach of the Year, and a four-time Virginia State College Division Coach of the Year. However, despite all his successes and accolades, the winning isn’t going to be what the esteemed coach misses.
Gordon said that, more than anything else, he will miss the time on the field with the players.
“I don’t need [the competitiveness] anymore,” Gordon said. “It’s now just the time I’ll miss with the people, being in contact with the players and being in regular contact with my colleagues here at the university, just being in touch with the game.”
Not only did Gordon create the UMW men’s soccer program, but he also started the men’s tennis program at the university, despite little prior experience with the sport. Gordon served 22 years as the men’s tennis head coach and he won 171 matches in that time.
With Gordon’s retirement, Mary Washington doesn’t just lose a soccer coach, but also its Associate Athletic Director.
“Administratively, when he got here we only had eight varsity sports, and now we are up to 23 varsity sports and he was a big part of that,” Hegmann said. “He will be missed.”
Hegmann said that the administrative responsibilities that Gordon carried will be split up among current UMW coaches, but the outlook on a new men’s soccer coach is much murkier.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through first,” Hegmann said. “It sometimes takes a week and a half or two weeks before [the job] gets advertised. It will be a while as it unfolds, but I’m really hoping we get somebody named by the end of March so that person is on paper so that anyone who is considering attending Mary Washington for soccer knows their coach for 2011-2012.”
Whoever the university gets to take over the program will have the daunting task of replacing a legend, a man who’s previously listed collection of achievements speak for themselves.
“I’m happy to look at my 34 years here and my 7 years before that and look back and be proud of my career, the good people I’ve worked with and the young guys who have gone through my programs,” Gordon said. “I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve been able to do.”