Rickard.JPGHead Coach Jim Rickard

The last thing Jim Rickard is looking for is more recognition.  Over the past 22 years, the much-respected coach has led Mustang squads to conference and regional titles, multiple national tournament berths, and championships.  Along the way he has mentored a plethora of All-Americans and has garnered several coach of the year honors, including the Brine-NAIA Coach of the Year in 2009.

To accomplish all of this takes a lot of winning.  A whole lot.  Entering the 2013 campaign, Rickard ranks ninth on the NAIA’s list of winningest active coaches with 266 career wins.  Yet, he would be the last one to point this out. In his humble and self-deprecating manner, the 23rd--year head coach knows that it’s all about the team and not him.  So, with renewed vigor and characteristic focus, Rickard turns to the task at hand, guiding his team back to the postseason after a disappointing 2012 campaign.

Therein lie several of the secrets of Rickard’s rare and lengthy tenure as head coach of the men’s soccer team at The Master’s College.  Along with all of the other attributes that have made him a respected and admired mentor, it’s the consistent approach to life and the sport of soccer that have kept him near or at the top of his profession.

That steadiness translates not only to success on the field but in the lives of those athletes he has tutored for two decades.  It hasn’t been easy notching all those wins in that span but it may have been even more challenging imparting a fervent love for Jesus Christ and life skills to his players.  Their response to his consistent message is a testimony to his unswerving style.

On the other hand, the recruiting part of the job was and never is glamorous but Rickard knows the grind of watching and finding talented athletes will pay off in the long run.  In addition, the area of match management has always been a strength of his as he craftily designs game plans and then makes the right adjustments on the run.  The results have been clear to see as the Mustangs continue to be perennial postseason contenders and participants.

Just as important, the Mustangs have never backed down from opponents, including the nationally-ranked ones that Rickard inevitably includes in his fall schedule with the intent of focusing his team for the postseason.  These teams have been remarkable performers for two decades, winning nearly 62% of their matches.  All of this is recent testimony to a journey that started over 25 years ago.

Following his graduation from Richland (WA) High School in 1986, Rickard entered The Master’s College where he developed into one of the greatest players in the history of the program.  His leadership qualities were noted from the outset with his appointment as team captain, a post he would hold throughout his collegiate career.  Playing sweeper, Rickard led the Mustangs to 57 victories, three postseason berths, and a pair of National Christian College Athletic Association national championships during a sterling four-year career.

Along with his team’s success came individual honors for Rickard, whose reputation as a fierce competitor and a sportsman gained positive reviews from coaches all over the country.  He was named an NAIA All-American and an All-Far West selection in 1987 and 1989, an NAIA All-District III choice all four years, and the Defensive MVP of the 1987 National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament.

After graduating from the college in 1990 with 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.  One year later, Rickard took over the mantle of head coach, beginning a period of unparalleled success at the college.  Over the last 22 years, Rickard has guided the Mustangs to eighteen playoff appearances, seven NAIA region finals, three NAIA National Tournaments, and a trio of NCCAA National Championships.  In addition, Rickard has coached over 20 NAIA All-Americans and over 50 NAIA all-region performers.

But Rickard is about more than accomplishments on the soccer field.  To keep the team’s focus on spiritual things, he maintains a year-long discipleship program with his players and has established prayer groups on the team.  A committed husband and father, Jim and his wife of ten years, Jolene, live in Santa Clarita with their two daughters, Michaela and Brooke, and son, Trenton.  Jim earned his Master’s in Business Administration from California Lutheran University in 1999, passed the CPA exam, and continues to work at the Stewardship Services Foundation in the off-season.