CofC men’s soccer coach Ralph Lundy will retire after 2019 season

RAW: CofC's Ralph Lundy retiring after 2019 season

CHARLESTON, S.C. – A dedicated leader, teacher and mentor to thousands of young men, who went on to become successful student-athletes, graduates and leaders themselves over the course of his 46-year overall coaching career, College of Charleston Head Coach Ralph Lundy’s legacy will extend well beyond the game of soccer as he announced his retirement after the conclusion of the 2019 season on Monday.

Lundy, who enters his 33nd year at the helm of the CofC men’s soccer program, has built a career that not only has touched the lives of his student-athletes, but youth soccer in the state of South Carolina, throughout the Lowcountry and in the Southeast. He also spearheaded and helped develop the Patriots Point Athletic Complex project, before the facility’s opening in 2000 in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

In recognition of his significant contributions, the College of Charleston will recognize and honor his long-time service and commitment to the institution by naming the Cougars’ home soccer field – Ralph Lundy Field. A dedication ceremony will be announced and held at a later date this season.

“Coach Lundy is a living legend in collegiate soccer and The College is fortunate to have benefited from his leadership for these many years,” said Randy Lowell (’95), current member of the College of Charleston Board of Trustees. “Through his tireless dedication and commitment to his players, he made them better on-and-off the field by building their character and helping them understand what is possible.

“There is no more fitting tribute to a man – who has spent his entire career shaping young adults on the field to prepare them for life – than to dedicate the field in his honor.”

His Cougar teams were immediately successful as soon as he set foot on campus back in 1987, and since then, Lundy has amassed 321 victories at The College. He is currently the fourth-winningest coach among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories (451). CofC has also made five NCAA Tournament appearances and won six conference championship titles under his leadership.

“The years of service Coach Lundy has given not only to the College of Charleston, but the Charleston community and state of South Carolina is truly amazing,” Director of Athletics Matt Roberts said. “He has positively impacted the lives of so many throughout our state by teaching the game of soccer. We will be forever grateful of the lasting legacy he will leave behind.”

Lundy, 68, ranks 23rd all-time in NCAA men’s soccer history in career wins and 10th all-time among active coaches across all divisions. He has led the Cougars to 19 winning seasons and produced two All-Americans, 42 first team all-conference selections and 13 NSCAA all-region honorees since the program’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I in 1991.

“I have been very fortunate and blessed,” said Lundy, who was previously the head coach and an assistant professor teaching full-time in the physical education department at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina from 1976 to 1986. “John (Kresse) recognized our quality results at Erskine, recruited me and offered me the job to coach the men’s soccer program at The College. We were competitive immediately.”

The fact that CofC was moving to the Division I ranks made the job very appealing to Lundy. Harry Lightsey, who was then the College of Charleston President, asked him if he could replicate the schedule he put together at Erskine with Clemson, South Carolina, Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Lundy delivered and his first teams played against the likes of such competition on the road and at home at Remley’s Point in Mount Pleasant.

“While I served as athletics director and men’s basketball head coach, one of my accomplishments was hiring Ralph Lundy, who was coaching at Erskine College at the time,” Kresse said. “He proved to be a dynamic addition to the athletics department. He recruited, coached and was very public relations conscience. He took our men’s soccer program to outstanding heights. I’ve always admired him and tried to emulate his energy and enthusiasm, which was off the charts. Ralph has had a long and distinguished run being here 33 years at The College. He always ran his program with professionalism and in a first-class style.”

Lundy’s first recruiting class of players were very talented and included four players from Trinidad & Tobago and one player from Brazil. The Cougars played the 1987 and 1988 seasons as members of the NAIA and the 1989 and 1990 seasons as provisional members of the NCAA.

His 1988 squad posted a 17-5-2 overall record highlighted by a 2-1 victory over Top 10-ranked Notre Dame. Wins over perennial powers Duke, UNC and Wake Forest would follow along with four-consecutive Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) Championships and three trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

“Coach Lundy has accomplished so much during his 33 years at the College of Charleston,” said former College of Charleston NSCAA/adidas All-American and Assistant Coach Troy Lesesne (’04), who is currently the Head Coach & Technical Director for the USL’s New Mexico United organization. “While his 321 wins, five NCAA Tournament berths and six conference championships are impressive, two things stand out above all of those incredible numbers.

“First, he put the College of Charleston on the map by not settling for only playing ‘mid-major’ programs. He would seek out playing the best, because he believed in the program that much. This mentality led to wins over top-tier programs like Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, St. John’s and Wake Forest. Second, and most importantly, he positively influenced countless generations of young men and demanded excellence both on-and-off the field. I learned the true meaning of words like accountability, commitment, work ethic and family through my time with Coach. Put simply, when you think of the College of Charleston, you think of Coach Ralph Lundy. Thank you for everything Coach, you’re a legend.”

Just seven years in, College of Charleston enjoyed a magical run in 1994 after playing one of the toughest schedules in the history of the program. The Cougars captured the TAAC title and roared into postseason play with victories at top-seeded Charlotte (1-0) and nationally-ranked NC State (5-4).

CofC had risen into one of the eight best teams in the country under Lundy, reaching the Elite Eight (lost to UCLA in quarterfinals), and the win against Charlotte marked the first time ever that any team at The College had won a NCAA Tournament game. It still remains the furthest any athletics team across all sports has advanced in NCAA postseason competition in the program’s Division I Era.

“Since the first day I met Coach, I have always admired his passion for the game of soccer,” said Keith Wiggans (’04), who currently serves the program’s Associate Head Coach and was one of many players to go on to play professionally after his CofC career. “Whether it was an early morning camp session or an afternoon college session, he always demanded your best. Anything less was not good enough. That constant strive to grow players on-and-off the field has molded hundreds of boys into exceptional men. All of those players are grateful and appreciative of what they have learned from Coach. As one of the many, I say, thank you!”

Lundy’s legacy will also be built on his passion and drive to spearhead a project to erect the Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant after the team’s NCAA success. That complex now is home to not only the men’s and women’s soccer programs, but also to the baseball and softball programs.

“A real big highlight of my career was the building of our athletic complex at Patriots Point in 2000,” Lundy said. “Our program started to be really good and youth soccer in Mount Pleasant was growing. I was speaking to Rotary Clubs trying to get better fields for the community. I stood besides Cheryll Woods-Flowers, who was the Mayor at the time, and brought a picture of the facility of what we needed. All of our hard work eventually paid off.”

Flowers’ youngest daughter was involved in youth soccer in the late 80s and Lundy’s enthusiasm and love for the game and for young people immediately won her over. The idea and proposal of a facility for College of Charleston Soccer, Baseball, Softball and Town of Mount Pleasant Youth Fields at Patriots Point was born and became a reality, after a number of years of discussions and negotiations between the Town of Mount Pleasant, then College of Charleston President Alex Sanders and the Patriots Point Development Authority.

“Ralph has been my favorite coach at the College of Charleston,” said Flowers (’81), who also served as Vice President of The Cougar Club, the athletics department’s fundraising arm. “As everyone knows, Ralph’s passion for soccer and for his players is infectious. He coached my daughter and grandson at more soccer camps than I can count. He is a true visionary and advocate for what could be done to make the lives of thousands of young people better. He is also a dedicated member of the College of Charleston Family, and thankfully one of my dearest, most trusted friends. I don’t know any individual that has done more to influence young people in our community. I am eternally thankful that he came into all of our lives.”

Lundy has also given back to the game and hosts his annual Ralph Lundy Soccer Academy Camps across the Southeast during the summer months. Something that began 41 years ago and has touched the lives of so many youth soccer players across the country since 1978.

“The game has changed leaps and bounds over the years,” he said. “It is very different because of the numbers of kids interested in soccer, but I love seeing kids playing all sports and the growth of our sport.”

He was a state coach with the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association and was inducted into the organization’s first SCYSA Hall of Fame class. Lundy also served as United States Soccer Federation National Staff Coach from 1981 until 1994.

His influence and impact on soccer in the Palmetto State is evident on the SCYSA’s Facebook page with an outpouring of messages recently from countless former players, coaches and students:

“Thanks Coach for the impact on my life while a student at Erskine!”

“Thanks for all you have done for South Carolina soccer, Coach!”

“Huge influence on me and countless hundreds, no, thousands, of players and coaches! There are not many who have imprinted their love of the game and work ethic on as many!”

“Amazing coach, but even better friend and mentor to many. Unbelievable impact in my life on-and-off the field. Legend is the right word, he certainly earned it!”

“Ralph is a great one. Simple hard work and talent leads to success.”

“Not only is Ralph a great all-soccer guy, he is an even greater person and man!”

Lundy has also grown a coaching tree of his own as many of his former players and mentees have followed in his footsteps. Lesesne now in the professional ranks, Wiggans and Assistant Coach Tam McGowan (’14) on his current coaching staff and many others in the college and youth ranks.

“It is my firm belief that ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things when challenged by great leadership,” said Jamie Guyan (’98), who played for the Cougars from 1993 to 1996 and served as an Assistant Coach from 2001 to 2004. “Coach Lundy was that leader for me. Not only did I play for him, I also spent four years coaching with him. Looking back, many of life’s lessons were taught by Coach, even when I could not see it. I am forever grateful for my personal and professional growth and would personally like to thank him for investing in me. Congratulations on a tremendous career of coaching and developing young men.”

Former Wofford Head Coach Ralph Polson also benefited from Lundy’s tutelage while serving as an Associate Head Coach at The College from 2000 to 2008. He says there is no question about Lundy’s love and passion for soccer – something he shared with everyone that he has come in contact with. Humble and gracious, Lundy always acknowledged the successes of those he coached, educated and mentored. They were his heroes.

“It’s hard to imagine Ralph Lundy retiring,” Polson said. “To say he will be missed seems like such an understatement. Outside of my father, there has not been another individual who has impacted my life more than Ralph Lundy. He has clearly been the most influential person in my coaching career. While I am saddened to see him step away from the game, his influence on our sport and those he has mentored will be seen and enjoyed for years to come.”

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Lundy started his playing career in soccer and baseball at Brevard (N.C.) Junior College and later attended Western Carolina University where he was a three-sport athlete in soccer, baseball and wrestling. He is a member of the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame (1991), Erskine College Athletics Hall of Fame (1993), Brevard College Athletics Hall of Fame (2006) and Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame (2006).

During his 30+ seasons as the Cougars’ head coach, Lundy always focused on his family life. His wife, Elizabeth, and their children, Harper, Ralphie and Lettie, have and will always be a part of the CofC Family. Ralphie played for his father from 2009 to 2012 and was tabbed all-conference during his senior year.

“My wife, Elizabeth, is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Lundy said. “I want to also thank my children and all the good people through the years at The College. I feel very fortunate to have come here. I appreciate the College of Charleston. It’s really been fun and I’ve worked with so many amazing people, assistant coaches and student-athletes. My vacation has become my vocation.”

THE RALPH LUNDY FILE

Erskine College (1976-86) – 130-71-13 (.638)

College of Charleston (1987-Present) – 321-265-51 (.544)

Career Total – 451-336-64 (.568)

RALPHY LUNDY BY THE NUMBERS

4 – The number of Hall of Fames Lundy has been inducted into

5 – The number of NCAA Tournament appearances (1994, 1995, 1996, 2004 and 2010)

17 – College of Charleston’s highest Top 25 national ranking under Lundy in 1995

33 – The number of years coached at College of Charleston

451 – The number of career wins from 1976 to Present

.544 – His career winning percentage at College of Charleston

TOP 10 WINNINGEST ACTIVE NCAA DIVISION I COACHES (BY CAREER VICTORIES)

1. Mark Berson, South Carolina – 507

2. Schellas Hyndman, Grand Canyon – 499

3. Bob Warming, Omaha – 468

4. Ralph Lundy, College of Charleston – 451

5. Ray Reid, Connecticut – 445

6. Sasho Cirovski, Maryland – 413

7. Dave Masur, St. John’s – 408

8. Alan Dawson, Old Dominion – 373

9. Neil Roberts, Boston University – 363

10. Simon Tobin, San Jose State – 338