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Wells to retire as LWC Soccer Coach

By Kyle Jackson

Lindsey Wilson College men's soccer head coach Ray Wells announced today that he will retire following the 2021-22 academic year.

Wells is the only head coach in Lindsey Wilson men's soccer history, creating the program from scratch in 1990.

"Every year since 1978, I've been a part of a college season either as a player, an assistant coach, or a head coach," Wells said. "It has been part of life for much of my life so I'm going to stay involved in some capacity. My passion for the game will always be with me."

"There have been highs and lows (during his coaching career)," Wells added. "But being able to translate your passion into your career, for me, I don't see how I can be any luckier."

Following last night's 5-1 win over Campbellsville University, Wells owns a 621-148-45 career record. While at Lindsey Wilson, Wells has amassed a 548-112-35 record.

Wells is an eight-time NAIA National Coach of the Year and four-time NSCAA-NAIA National Coach of the Year. He has led Lindsey Wilson to nine national titles -- going a perfect 9-0 in national championship games.

Overall, Wells has led Lindsey Wilson to 26 NAIA National Championship Tournament postseason appearances.

"It's amazing to think about Ray Wells and all he has accomplished here at Lindsey Wilson College with our men's soccer program," Lindsey Wilson President Bill Luckey said. "Ray brought incredible athletes from all over the world to Columbia, Kentucky, all while producing multiple national championships during his lifetime of service here.

"We went from being a campus and a community with virtually no knowledge of soccer to a group of fans who now understand red cards, offsides, and direct kicks," Luckey added. "I'm so happy for Ray and his wife, Cindy, and the opportunities they will now have together. There are few people in the history of Lindsey Wilson College who have done as much to provide an overall impact on the college. He will certainly be missed."

In addition to winning the nine national titles -- 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2011 -- Wells has guided the men's soccer program to 23 conference titles, including the 2021 crown, and 23 conference tournament championships.

During his career, Wells' teams have produced winning streaks of 33 (the second-longest in NAIA soccer history), 28, 23, 22, 20, and 13 games, and hold the fourth-longest unbeaten string in NAIA soccer history (31 games), which includes a 25-0-0 record during the 1998 championship season.

Wells' 2011 national champs match his 1998 team as the only two teams in program history to finish the season with a perfect record. The Blue Raiders finished 2011 at 23-0-0.

The Blue Raiders own an NAIA National Tournament record of 57-17-6. The 57 tournament wins are the most in NAIA men's soccer history.

"Ray is a legendary coach and his accomplishments in the sport of soccer are staggering," Lindsey Wilson athletics director and former men's soccer student-athlete Willis Pooler said. "I was blessed to play for him, work as an assistant coach under him, learn from him as a head coach and supervise him. Although the national championships and countless wins are a big part of his career, his legacy is in the thousands of students he coached.

"He changed the path of so many lives -- those that jumped at the opportunity to play for the best coach and soccer program in the NAIA," Pooler added. "Early in his career at Lindsey Wilson, he showed our institution and athletics department the work and commitment required to elevate a program to the highest standard of any program in any sport in the NAIA. His influence was monumental in helping us strive to have nationally competitive programs across the board in our department. It will be a tall task to fill his shoes. I can't thank him enough for all that he has done for our soccer program, department, institution, coaches, and especially our student-athletes. We wish him nothing but the best with his well-deserved retirement."

Wells has been named conference coach of the year 13 times over two conferences and is a six-time regional coach of the year. He recruited and coached two NAIA National Players of the Year, 76 NAIA All-Americans, and 195 all-conference performers during his time on the sideline.

"I'm going to miss working with the guys every day and putting together a team and trying to figure things out with them," Wells said. "That's a lot of fun and that's a challenge. Working on things like the strategy, the planning, the development of the players and the team, and implementation of the daily work to make that group, which consists of different races, religions, cultures, and shoe sizes, to get everyone to work towards a common goal.

"I'm also going to really miss finding the players," Wells added. "I love recruiting and that is a key in every sport. To get good kids who are good footballers. Those are the two things I will miss the most."

During his first nine years at Lindsey Wilson, Wells served as the Lindsey Wilson athletic director, where he oversaw the development of 13 new sports programs.

Before coming to Lindsey Wilson, Wells had coaching stints at Georgia Southern University and Andrew College.

"I recently heard another coach say that had been coaching forever that one of the reasons he was leaving was because he no longer felt he was the best man for the job," Wells said. "And although I still feel like I have a lot of things I could contribute, I no longer feel like I am the best man for the job and I think it is time that someone takes it and grow it in their and the school's vision and build on what we have already done.

"One measure of a program's success while you are there is are they in a better place than when you got it," Wells concluded. "And I think it is safe to say we are. So whoever comes next, I hope they take the base we have built and continue to grow it.

This story was posted on 2021-10-29 13:36:13
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