CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston head men's soccer coach Ralph Lundy has left an indelible mark on the men's soccer program, CofC and the college community as a whole. His legacy will long be preserved as one of the most successful, hard-working and passionate coaches in the country.
In his 35th season as a head coach, Lundy has now compiled 402 victories and is one of the top-10 winningest Division I men's soccer coaches of all time. Only 13 coaches have ever eclipsed the 400-win mark. Additionally, Lundy is third all-time in wins amongst active Division I coaches.
In an age when personnel turnover is frequent and longevity is rare, Lundy has managed to serve just two programs throughout his illustrious 35-year career.
"I take great joy in building programs and establishing continuity," said Lundy. "I'm passionate about taking something and making it grow and taking on projects like Patriots Point. It's just so much fun for me to see young men grow, mature and develop into leaders. When I recruit a player, I'm not just going to be his coach for four years, but 40 years."
Lundy began his coaching career at Erskine in 1976 and compiled a 131-71-13 record in 11 seasons with the Flying Fleet. Over those 11 seasons, the team boasted winning records in nine of them and won seven league championships. Lundy is now enshrined in the Erskine Athletics Hall of Fame and an annual soccer award is given in his honor.
In 1987, the Flying Fleet had not lost to CofC in 16 matches, so Coach Lundy was only mildly interested when then-Athletic Director John Kresse and Assistant Athletic Director Jerry Baker called him about coming to Charleston.
"I didn't know much about The College or the city of Charleston, so when Jerry Baker and John Kresse called me I wasn't interested," said Lundy.
His wife, Elizabeth, convinced her husband to go to Charleston and see the place before making a brash decision.
"We decided to check it out anyways and two days later, I was back at Erskine saying, 'I want to go to Charleston'," Lundy said. "I saw the incredible potential here and I've been blessed with my time at the College of Charleston."
Now, 23 years later, Lundy's successes at CofC have been innumerable and are continuing to grow. Lundy has had 18 winning seasons with the Cougars and since the team's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I status in 1991, he has led CofC to five conference championships and four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to joining the Southern Conference, the Cougars were a member of the Trans-America Athletic Conference for six years. Lundy's team won four-straight TAAC Championships from 1993-96 and earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in 1994-96. He was named the TAAC Coach of the Year in back-to-back years (1993-94).
Lundy was also the visionary behind the Patriots Point Complex, and though he had to battle through resistance to make it what it is today, CofC's teams now have the beautiful facility to call their home.
Most recently, the Cougars were crowned Southern Conference champions in 2004 to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Charleston defeated South Carolina, 3-2, in the first round before falling to conference rival UNC Greensboro, 2-1, in the second round of the tournament. The Cougars finished the 2004 season ranked No. 20 in the nation by the Coaches' Poll and College Soccer News and No. 25 by Soccer America.
"They've all been special teams," said Lundy. "Sure, sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes you can avoid injuries and you find yourself in the championship. But, the special part about all the teams I've had in 30 plus years is being able to absolutely remember the teams and players and the way each group meshed together. It's about these young men and watching them grow and develop."
For Lundy, the wins are meaningful and he feels blessed to have achieved them, but his true legacy and what means the most to him are the bonds and memories he has created through the years.
"I tell you, what we do at CofC and what I want to do is make a difference in our players' lives," said Lundy. "That's what CofC is about. We believe in these student-athletes and are committed to helping them grow and reach their full potential and that's what I do as a coach. It goes well beyond their time as players on my soccer team. To watch these young men grow and mature and raise families and go on to do great things with their lives is incredible.
"And you know 19 year olds, there's never a dull moment, but man, it is truly something," he laughed. "This is fun for me. It's what my coaches did for me and I'm passing it on."