Jim Rudy enters his 21st season as the Head Coach of the University of Massachusetts women's soccer team. The fourth longest-tenured UMass coach, Rudy is only trailing cross country's Ken O'Brien (40 years), softball's Elaine Sortino (29 years), and Bob Newcomb of swimming and diving (24 years). His 20th season was one to remember, highlighted by his 300th career victory on Sept. 7 vs. Iona. The Minutewomen came out on top 2-1 and in the process made Rudy only the ninth coach in NCAA history to eclipse the 300-victory plateau.
After a tough beginning of the millennium, Rudy has the program back on track with two-consecutive winning seasons after four-straight losing campaigns. He perhaps performed his most impressive coaching job in 2007 when he led the team to the program's first unbeaten non-conference season (5-0-1) since the program joined the Atlantic 10 in 1993. Despite facing a number of key injuries in the conference season, he kept the team fighting all the way to the end, which included wins over A-10 Finalist Fordham and Semifinalist Richmond. The Rams finished the regular season 7-1-3 in conference, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Minutewomen. Meanwhile, Richmond was nearly knocked out of the tournament by UMass when the Minutewomen topped the Spiders, 2-1 in overtime during the last weekend of the season.
Throughout his 27 years of coaching soccer, Rudy has established himself as one of the sport's most consistent winners. He has averaged almost 11 wins a season in his career sporting a 307-151-25 (.661) lifetime women's coaching record. The 307 wins and .661 winning percentage rank among the all-time leaders of coaches with a minimum of 10 years at an NCAA Division I school.
In his career, Rudy has directed his teams into NCAA postseason play 13 times, including nine of his 20 seasons at the helm of the UMass program. Rudy holds the distinct honor of being the only coach in the women's collegiate ranks to guide two different schools to the Final Four. Rudy directed the University of Central Florida Golden Knights to the national championship game in 1982 and to the national semifinals in 1987. He then guided Massachusetts to the national semifinals in 1993, falling to eventual champion North Carolina, 4-1.
Rudy's list of accomplishments is impressive. In over 27 years of coaching in both the men's and women's game, Rudy has trained some of soccer's top names. He has coached 37 All-America selections, as well as two Hermann Trophy recipients. UCF's Michelle Akers (1988) and UMass' April Kater (1990) were both recognized as the nation's best women's collegiate soccer player.
Briana Scurry, who played at UMass from 1990-93, won the Missouri Athletic Club/adidas Goalkeeper of the Year award in 1993, while Akers captured the award in 1987. Both Scurry and Akers have been pivotal forces in the United States National Team's performances worldwide, including winning a gold medal at the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games, and the 1999 World Cup crown. Scurry captured a gold medal with Team USA at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Rudy is a master tactician and is considered to be one of the nation's best goalkeeper coaches. Three of his former women's keepers have gone on to play with the U.S. National Team (Amy Allmann, Kim Wyant and Scurry). Rudy also coached former men's U.S. National Team keeper Winston DuBose at UCF. In addition, six men and three women keepers under Rudy's direction were drafted or have played professionally.
The numbers speak for themselves. There is no question that Rudy has made an incredible mark on the collegiate soccer scene through his teams, but his talent also lives in the staggering number of former players that have gone into the coaching ranks. Susan Montagne (Georgia head coach), Paula Wilkins (Penn State head coach) and Kater (former Syracuse head coach) are among the over 20 former Rudy players currently holding coaching positions. Five of Rudy's former assistants are now patrolling the collegiate sidelines as head coaches.
In 20 seasons at the UMass helm, Rudy has compiled a 233-128-19 (.638) record. UMass has won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship once and the tournament title four times since the birth of A-10 soccer in 1993. The three-time (1993, 1995, 1997) A-10 Coach of the Year has produced six conference Player of the Year selections (Scurry, 1993; Erin Lynch, 1994 and 1995; Sophie Lecot, 1998; Emma Kurowski; 1999, Julie Podhrasky, 2000), as well as four A-10 Tournament MVPs and over 50 All-Conference selections. He won his 200th game with the Minutewomen on Sept. 27, 2004, a 4-1 victory over Holy Cross.
Several of Rudy's former players are making their mark in the professional ranks. Four former Minutewomen played in the Women's United Soccer Association women's soccer league. Erica Iverson, a 1998 graduate, played for the Philadelphia Charge. Former Minutewoman Nicole Roberts was a midfielder/forward with the Carolina Courage, while Scurry recorded the league's best goals allowed average and save percentage as the goalkeeper for the Atlanta Beat. Podhrasky also signed a contract with the San Jose CyberRays.
Prior to arriving at UMass, Rudy coached both the men's and women's teams at UCF. He compiled a record of 129-58-16 from 1975-1987 with the men's team, while posting a 74-23-6 mark in seven seasons at the helm of the women's program from 1981-1987. He brought both teams to the NCAA Tournament with the women making three appearances (1982, 1984, 1987), and the men making back-to-back appearances (1982, 1983). Rudy's 1982 women's squad advanced to the national championship game, losing, 2-0, to North Carolina. Ironically, the last game he would coach at UCF would be a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to UMass in the 1987 national semifinals at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst. For all of his accomplishments as a coach at UCF, Rudy was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 2, 2001.
In 1993, Rudy, a 1972 Rollins College graduate, received the Rollins Athletic Achievement Award which is given annually to a Rollins graduate who has distinguished themselves in the field of athletics after graduating from the Winter Park, Fla., school.
Among his numerous soccer-related activities, Rudy has been a member of the NCAA Women's Soccer Committee, the Director of the Girls' Advanced Soccer Camps, a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation's National coaching staff and an assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic Development Team. Rudy and his wife Marie reside in Hadley with their 24-year-old son Eric.