California Baptist Soccer Programs Earn the Double-Double, Twice
The head coaches for the California Baptist University men’s and women’s soccer teams are going to need some bigger offices. They are running out of wall space to hang all of their awards.
For the second consecutive season – and both while the Riverside, Calif.-based university is making the two-year transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II – the Lancers men’s and women’s soccer teams captured the National Christian College Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) national championships.
And, for the second consecutive season, Cal Baptist women’s soccer coach, Kristen St. Clair, and Cal Baptist men’s soccer coach, Ryan Jorden, walked away with the NSCAA’s (NCCAA) National Coach of the Year Award.
So, one could say they won the double-double…twice.
“To be honest, I am just grateful to the Cal Baptist president (Dr. Ronald R. Ellis) and administration for giving our juniors and seniors an opportunity to play for a national championship while we make the transition to Division II,” said Jorden, who in five seasons as head coach of the Lancers has become the most successful coach in the program's history with a 60-30-10 record and five straight postseason berths. “Kristen and I are blessed to be at a great university that cares about providing our student athletes with a wonderful venue to live, learn and play.”
That’s a sentiment that is quickly echoed by St. Clair, who in six seasons has also established herself as the winningest coach in program history with a 97-25-8 record as well as two Pacific West Conference (Division II) championships.
“We have a tremendous administration, a great philosophy, and wonderful families that are a part of our athletic community,” St. Clair said. “But for sure, it’s the players that shape the program…all the credit goes to the student athletes. Yes, we are competitive, and yes we have the desire to win, but we value the role of teaching and growing the student athlete.”
Both coaches were present in Indianapolis to accept their national coach of the year awards at the 2013 NSCAA Convention.
“I love the game and I enjoy teaching it,” said St. Clair, who, like Jorden, graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, where she won an NAIA national championship as a player (1999) and as an assistant coach (2003). “The NSCAA has been an incredible benefit to me personally. It’s a humbling honor to receive this award with so many great coaches. The coaching community is a small world, and the NSCAA is outstanding at helping all of us refine and develop our philosophy through the coaching education courses and the annual National Convention. The NSCAA has helped shape my philosophy and it has opened the doors for me to learn from some of the best coaches in the country.”
“The Convention is such a great point of connection,” said Jorden, who as a player at Westmont was a part of 65 wins and two national tournament appearances. “You can meet with colleagues and conduct business, connect with coaches, and observe some of the finest clinicians in the world. My wife came out last year to Kansas City, and because she is obviously very invested in my work, it was great for her to see what this association is all about. We had a wonderful time.”
St. Clair and Jorden weren’t the only Lancers to take home some hardware at the 2013 Convention.
The California Baptist University men’s and women’s soccer team cleaned house in Indianapolis. On the men’s side, Carlos Figueroa took home the big honor; he was named the NCCAA Division I Player of the Year. In addition, Figueroa, Joey Pacheco, Cole Schmit and Alex Anderson were named to the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCCAA Division I All-America First Team.
Five was the magic number for the Lancers women’s soccer team. Bernadette Witz won the NCCAA Division I Player of the Year. Witz, Daelyn Paul and Kelly Jenks were named All-America First Team. Melissa Laxamana and Kimberly Allard were named All-America Second Team.
“See, I told you it was about the players,” St. Clair said.
If the St. Clair name looks familiar to you, it should. Her father, Gary St. Clair, just finished his 23rd season as the head coach of the San Jose State University men’s soccer program. He was twice named the NSCAA’s Far West Coach of the Year, including in 2000 when his Spartans were the nation's No. 1 team and finished 20-1-1.
“Well, a father can never be too proud of his daughter,” Gary St. Clair said. “I am most proud of the fact that she is just a very good coach, for men or women. She seems to find that perfect balance between respect and discipline. She is a wonderful recruiter. Her mother and I could not be more proud of her success.”
Jorden’s coaching tree is rock solid, too, having spent four years as the assistant to Jimmy Conway at Oregon State.
“It’s been a wonderful journey so far,” Jorden said. “I enjoyed playing at Westmont, always one of the better teams in the NAIA. Then, I went immediately to Oregon State and was able to watch and learn under Coach Conway. Having a great education with Coach Conway to start my career, it was great to have the opportunity to go back to Westmont to coach and teach, before coming to California Baptist in 2008.”
It’s no surprise Cal Baptist officials, including President Ellis, are often on the sideline cheering on the Lancers. They get a front row seat to watch two of the top young coaches in the country.
“It’s hard to know what the future holds,” said St. Clair. “I am really happy at Cal Baptist and I love coaching at the college level. I’d love to coach at the national level someday, but we have a well-supported program, I love the teaching aspect and it’s a great place for me.”
Jorden is also enjoying the ride.
“God has opened some wonderful doors for me and my family,” Jorden said. “We are in a great setting and I think we should always be grateful for the opportunities that come your way through hard work and dedication.”
Now, about that wall space.