Defeating Bethesda 6-3, The Master’s University Soccer Team, under the leadership of Coach Jim Rickard, has won their 300th game. 300 wins. 300 games in which they have dominated the field. This number not only represents a history of success and dedication from of our players throughout the years, but most especially the dedication of our coach.
Starting as a member of the soccer team himself in the eighties, and becoming its head coach a year after his graduation, he single-handedly put the soccer program on the map. “His reputation speaks for itself and his players speak for his reputation,” Athletic Director, Steve Waldeck, stated.
For twenty-six years, players have had countless hours of practice time and mentorship a week under Rickard. “He’s a godly man,” Lee Duncan, Executive Vice President of Master’s U said, “He cares about winning but he cares more about the character of his guys, they are over at his house late at night, on the phone with him all the time, he invests his whole life into them. It’s very special.”
At the end of the game the soccer team surrounded their coach and the audience in the stands stood up to honor Rickard’s legacy. Over the speakers, Waldeck read select quotes from a long list of soccer alum who wanted to share their thoughts about this influential man. One graduate said, “I will always remember how your direction and counsel inspired me to be the very best I could be and not who others thought I should be.” Another commented, “He always knew how to get the best out of every player and maximize the team’s ability to work well together. . . his love for the Lord is never in doubt, always looking for ways to encourage us in our Christian walk. Under his leadership I made big strides spiritually . . .He is always going to be called Coach in my mind, but I count it an honor to call him a friend.”
John MacArthur, our university president, summed it up well “I love preachers but I also love coaches. They impact men, and God’s kingdom depends on men: strong men, men who know how to compete, who know how to be a part of a team, who know how to sacrifice, who know how to suffer pain, get back up and go again, who know how to handle victory and defeat, who are proud enough to do their best and humble enough to give someone else the credit. He brings all that to training these men and in the middle of it all, we win, and that’s the best”.
Rickard is a leader of men. The Master’s University recognizes this but so do people outside of this community. 21 out of 25 of his teams have qualified for nationals. More than 20 of his players have been named NAIA All-Americans and another 50 plus as All-Region performers by the NAIA. This same panel have named him National Coach of the Year; a title no other Master’s University coach has received thus far. And after this win against Bethesda, Rickard is now seventh in the NAIA’s list of active winningest coaches.
Whether they win or lose, each player knows they have met their goal to “play good and honest soccer” when they walk off the field, a standard Rickard never fails to remind his players. This “good and honest soccer” has led to 300 wins and The Master’s University congratulates our very own Jim Rickard on this incredible milestone!