Head Men’s Soccer Coach
E-Mail Coach Wolf
To say that Dave Wolf is the winningest coach in Westmont men’s soccer history is no small statement of accomplishment. Not only has Westmont won 601 games – second most among NAIA schools – but in the Warriors’ 49 year history, there have been only four coaches, all of whom have produced a win-loss percentage of at least .625. In 2008, Wolf surpassed legendary Russ Carr (202-106-31) for longest tenure as Westmont’s head coach. In 23 years, Wolf has produced a record of 280-131-43 (.664).
Asked to describe himself as a coach, Wolf replied, "The phrase that I would most associate with myself is ‘motivation through affirmation.’ This isn’t because I am trying to be a good guy. The greatest joy I get in coaching is that I enjoy believing in people. I love getting behind people, telling them they can do the job we are asking them to do. I love encouraging, being positive. There are times to say hard things and be direct. But who I am is on the side of saying, ‘We can do this. You have the quality to accomplish this. I am going to believe in you all the way to the final whistle.’"
A graduate of Wheaton (Ill.), where he is a member of the Athletic Hall of Honor, Wolf helped lead the Thunder to a NCAA Division III National Championship in 1984 and was named an NCAA All-American in 1985. Following his graduation, he played one year in the Major Indoor Soccer League with the Chicago Sting and five years in the National Professional Soccer League with the Detroit Rockets, Indiana Kick and Memphis Storm. He also competed abroad with Missionary Athletes International and Lay Witness for Christ.
Wolf began his coaching career at Westmont in 1991 and has twice been named GSAC Coach of the Year. He has twice received NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year honors, most recently in 2008. His coaching accomplishments include back-to-back 20 win seasons (1994-95), advancement to the NAIA National Tournament seven times, eight Golden State Athletic Conferences championships and 17 players named as NAIA All-Americans.
"I think the coaching highlight for me," said Wolf, "is when I see a player give everything they have to give in a particular moment – a game, a training session, a fitness activity. When I see those moments in my players, that is the pinnacle (of coaching). I think I have matured enough as a coach to appreciate those moments even in games we don’t win.
"When a team is really together, I love that," continued Wolf. "We are always trying to create chemistry. It doesn’t always happen. But whenever you see a team that is knit together, soccer is a beautiful game to watch."
The 2008 season proved to be an excellent example of team chemistry. After twelve games, the Warriors were faced with a 5-6-1 overall record and a conference mark of just 2-4-1. But with the possibility of missing postseason play looming large, the Warriors saw things begin to come together. After eeking out a 1-1 tie at Biola, The Warriors finished up the regular season with a 4-0 home win against San Diego Christian and a 1-0 road win at California Baptist. As a result, the Warriors finished sixth in the GSAC standings and were assigned the sixth seed in the GSAC Touranment.
Westmont traveled to Vanguard to for a first round match-up with the third-seeded Lions and travelled home with a 3-2 victory. In the semifinals, the Warriors were hosted by number two seed Concordia and pulled off a 1-0 upset against the number seven team in the country. That set up a show down with Azusa Pacific for the GSAC Championship and an automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament.
Before the game could be played, a wildfire roared through the Westmont campus and surrounding community. Three students lost their housing and Coach Wolf and his family lost their home. After a two day delay, the Warriors traveled to Azusa and pulled off a stunning 2-0 victory in an emotionally charged game, earning the team’s first trip to the national championship in eight years.
Westmont was awarded a opening round home game and in front of 2,000 fans at UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium, the Warriors defeated Holy Names 3-2 in double overtime. With the win, the Warriors advanced to the NAIA Tournament final site where they defeated Baker (Kan.) in the second round by a score of 1-0. The quarterfinals brought an end to the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak when they lost to Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) by a score of 1-0. It was, however, a remarkable turnaround brought together by a close knit group of student-athletes and their coaching staff.
In 1993, Wolf received his Masters of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific University. Academically, Wolf teaches Kinesiology and Physical Education courses including the Psychology of Movement. He served as Westmont’s Athletic Director from 1998 to December of 2008. From 1996 to 1997, Wolf was an assistant coach in the Olympic Development Program.
Former president of the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coach Association, Wolf cites his predecessors as establishing an example in giving back to the larger soccer community. "Russ Carr served as president of the same association," said Wolf. "He and Bob Fortosis have been wonderful role models for me. They have given so much to soccer away from Westmont and I wanted to do my small part in that as well."
In another example of giving back to soccer, Wolf serves as a member of the Coaching Advisory Board for the Santa Barbara Soccer Club. Though he admits there is something of a personal involvement in this duty as all of his children have participated on SBSC teams.
Wolf and his wife Jill, a member of the Wheaton Athletic Hall of Honor in her own right, have five children, Tanner, who is a current member of the team, Lauren who attends Wheaton College, Bailey (16), Payton (14) and Jackson (11).