Its Not Always About Football and Basketball
Possibly one of the most successful men’s programs to hit Madison College was the soccer team, who pretty much had great success from the very beginning. They of course struggled initially and did not win a game at first, but after Coach Vanderwarker was hired, the team took great strides and in 1971 they went from three wins in their first three seasons to an 8-4-1 record in 1971 and would continue their streak of greatness (Gastrell and Jenkins). Throughout the decade the team would achieve great heights, including multiple state championships, coach of the year awards, and frequent All-Americans on the team. They coined the phrase “win in ‘71” at the beginning of that season and would also have “coming through in ‘72” for the following season; the men’s soccer team would do exactly that and much more during the decade for Madison College (Bluestone ’72, ’73).
One thing that really separates this team from any that other sport that existed at Madison during this time was the fact that coach Vanderwarker was one of the few coaches left that was also a part of the faculty as a professor in the Physical Education Department. As President Carrier remembers, he was just as intimidating in the classroom as he was on the field and would sometimes put some fear into his students while he taught (Dr, Carrier). With that, Coach Vanderwarker was actually outside of the trend that Madison was trying to create; he was still a coach within the Athletic Department, but he was also a professor, which the college was starting to get away from.
Another huge thing that made a difference with the success of the team was the amazing players that were on it. Several would become recognized and awarded as high caliber athletes, and one in particular really made a difference in the early part of the decade and
beyond. Alan Mayer was a student athlete that really gave his all, not only the team, but for the college. He actually came to Madison for the chance to play soccer, as well as tennis, where he would also be a team leader (Smith). He gave 110% every game and was known for being knocked unconscious on occasion while suffering at least one concussion, and the bruises became too many to count. Although he would play his last game in 1973 after a very accomplished career, he would make the difference beyond this just for the fact that he made Madison an attractive college to any prospect (Smith). He showed that anyone could become a superstar, and can make a difference.
This team was one that regularly overcame the odds, and won multiple championships during the decade, including state championships in 1972 and in 1975, and those trophies still proudly show in the trophy case in Godwin Hall (note photo of trophy). The team would make some kind of tournament just about every year depending on the league that they were playing in, and would always make it a fight no matter how good the other team was. This was a team that will sometimes go underappreciated due to the fact that it was a sport that was not one of the most popular, but it was one that really made a difference when it came to Madison creating a formal athletic program. With the success Coach Vanderwarker and the soccer team had, Madison College was starting to make the map as an athletic program, and seemed more and more appealing and put the school in the right direction for a co-educational institute that President Carrier had wanted.
Buck Gastrell and Van Jenkins, “The Grandstander,” The Breeze, February 23, 1973.
President Dr. Ronald Carrier, interview by author, James Madison University, April 23, 2013.
James Madison University. “Bluestone 1972.” Archive.org. http://archive.org/stream/ bluestone197264jame#page/82/mode/2up (accessed January 17,2013).
James Madison University. “Bluestone 1973.” Archive.org. http://archive.org/stream/bluestone197365jame#page/n3/mode/2up (accessed January 17,2013).
Mike Smith, “Al Mayer- The Well Rounded Athlete,” The Breeze, November 16, 1973.
“1975 Championship Trophy and Ball from Team,” 1975, James Madison University.