July 10, 2012
SANTA CLARITA, Calif.—Continuing TMC’s Athletic Department’s series designed to better acquaint The Master’s College community with our coaching staff, we have asked 21st-year head coach Jim Rickard of the men’s soccer team several questions about his experiences while coaching at the college.
TMC: How did you become a coach at The Master’s College?
JR: I had no thought or plan to coach in college. I was on my way to becoming a CPA. But after some encouragement from the athletic director at the time and much prayer I felt an excitement that could only come from God. His plans for my life were clearly revealed to me. So after telling the athletic director no a few times I accepted the job offer with a mixture of fear and enthusiasm.
TMC: What was your first exposure to soccer?
JR: I started playing soccer for the first time in Santa Clarita at the age of six. My first coach had a love and passion for soccer that was contagious and that love has never left me. I truly love the game God has allowed me to be involved in and the affect those experiences have on the lives of my players.
TMC: Where and how long did you coach before coming to TMC?
JR: I played four years at The Master’s and was the assistant for one season. So I’ve been privileged to give The Master’s College and the soccer team 26 years of my life.
TMC: Describe your most memorable experience at The Master’s College?
JR: Impossible! I have “most memorable experiences” from every year, sometimes more than one a year. To choose from the region championships, national championships, rivalry games, friendships, colleagues, “battles” and seeing growth in the lives of young men makes narrowing down a single “most memorable experience” impossible!
But I’ll try … One memory that really stands out happened in 2009. We had an amazing year where everything came together, we were GSAC regular season champions, GSAC Tournament champions and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament and worked our way to the finals where we lost 1-0 to Lindsey Wilson College, KY (eight-time NAIA National Champions). But, all that isn’t what stands out; what is most memorable was at the Final Four breakfast they held for the final four teams. One of our players, Cody Jenison, was awarded the Champions of Character Award out of 265 universities and all their players. When he addressed the crowd he told them why we play and who we play for. He was excited to share his faith in Jesus Christ and the joy it gave him and our team to play to honor God and the gifts He has given us.
We don’t play for our own honor or awards or recognition or pride. Our ultimate goal isn’t just to win a championship but to use our talents in soccer to share how Jesus Christ has changed our lives and to be a light of that truth to everyone we meet. Hearing it articulated from the heart of one of my players in a National Tournament Final Four setting among the elite of our sport is definitely one highlight of my coaching career.
TMC: What do you love most about The Master’s College?
JR: The opportunity to live out the mission of the college every day and seek to be an example to those God has blessed me with on the soccer team. Our mission statement includes, A Commitment To Christ, Biblical Fidelity, Moral Integrity, Intellectual Growth and A Life Of Lasting Contribution.
TMC: What character qualities do you look for in an ideal athlete?
JR: A hard worker who is grateful for the talents and abilities the Lord has given him; someone who sees himself as part of a team where the whole is stronger than the sum of the parts. A servant leader who shows leadership by doing, not by barking orders to younger players. Someone teachable, coachable and who makes others around him better.
TMC: In what ways do you view coaching as a ministry?
JR: It’s all ministry. Matching what you say with how you live all in the context of God’s Word, the Bible. Seeing athletics as a gift from God and a chance to honor and glorify God for the gifts and abilities He has given us. Using those talents as a platform to share the “Good News,” the gospel of Jesus Christ, His sinless life, death on the cross and resurrection.
TMC: How would you describe a fulfilling season?
JR: 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” Using a Biblical example, a fulfilling season is when everyone runs the race to win. This means they give everything, in everything, all the time because of their gratefulness to God for their abilities. This is in the classroom, in the dorms, in chapel, with their teammates, at practice, in the weight room and on the pitch.
TMC: What cultivated your passion for soccer?
JR: I played for the joy of the competition, friendships and the challenge. I feel like I’ve lived the Chariots of Fire Quote from Eric Laddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” When I coach, when I play, when I can impart something into the lives of the players, I feel the pleasure of the Lord and His purposes.
Jim and his wife Jolene have two daughters and a son, (Michaela (15), Brooke (12), & Trenton (7)) and reside in Newhall, CA.
Join us next week as we interview Jason Semelsberger, head coach of the men’s golf squad.