Ed Young grew up in Charlotte and graduated from West Mecklenburg High School in 1969. His introduction to the game of soccer came while attending Brevard Junior College where friendships built with Bill Barfield and Ralph Lundy drew him to the game. Upon enrolling at Western Carolina University in 1971, he joined a soccer team for the first time. Ed was a goalkeeper for the Catamounts for three seasons at Western Carolina, was the team captain for two of those years, and was the Most Valuable Player his senior year. These experiences at WCU, under his coach Dr. Charles Schrader, Lt. Col. USMC, sparked an enthusiasm that would ignite Young’s imagination for invention and leadership.
Ed Young’s extraordinary contributions in a vast array of soccer activities, especially in his hometown of Charlotte, have earned him the distinction of being selected as a member of the tenth class of inductees into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the sixth day of January, 2007.
In the summer of 1972, Young bemoaned the lack of an environment that would enable him to train for his senior season at WCU. He took matters into his own hands and organized the Charlotte Summer Soccer League. Pick-up games eventually led to the formation of a six-team league composed of players like Ed who would disperse to play at various colleges in the fall.
After graduating from WCU, Young returned to Charlotte and continued to influence the growth of adult amateur soccer. He served the dual role of player and manager for three well-known clubs in the mid-seventies and early-eighties: the Charlotte Soccer Club (1975), Press Box Soccer Club (1976-80), and Lowenbrau Soccer Club (1981-82). The Charlotte Soccer Club was the only adult men’s club in Charlotte at the time. Press Box (later Lowenbrau) earned a combined six North Carolina Soccer League Governors Cups and qualified for the National Open Cup. Supported by the sponsorship from Lowenbrau, the team eventually operated on a budget in excess of $20,000 per year.
In addition to his involvement with adult soccer, Young officiated high school and college games and served as a director of the Charlotte Junior Soccer Foundation.
During the same period of time, Young was involved with bringing professional soccer to the citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. He was the co-organizer of the first exhibition match between professional teams held in the state when the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Kicks of the NASL faced each other at Memorial Stadium in 1979. The event was accompanied by another first – a youth indoor tournament held at the Park Center.
The success of the NASL exhibition match showed that Charlotte was fertile ground for professional soccer. It did not take long for this to be confirmed. The Charlotte Lightnin joined the American Soccer League (ASL) in 1981 and promptly won the championship that year. The final game was witnessed by 24,000 fans in Memorial Stadium where the Lightnin defeated NY United 2-1 in double overtime. Young was the assistant to the team’s coach and general manager, Rodney Marsh. He remained with the team in that capacity through the 1983 season. Highlighting his time with the Lightnin was the time he spent with Bobby Moore, the captain of England’s 1966 World Cup team and the MVP of that tournament and his relationship with team owner, Bob Benson. Following his stint with the Lightnin, Young became the general manager of the Charlotte Gold of the United Soccer League (USL).
Through the decades of the 80s, 90s, and 00s, Ed Young has continued to positively contribute to the game. He has coached numerous youth and adult teams for both males and females. He has been an assistant coach for the boys and girls at Myers Park High School since 1998. He is known around the United States for his role as the vice-chair of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Soccer Ambassadors program, an effort born from a vision he shared with another confidant, Jeff Tipping. The purpose of the Soccer Ambassadors is to give soccer a strong united voice that will elevate the sport to a higher level on the American sporting landscape.
What a fitting role for a man whose voice and whose actions have been such a positive influence on the advancement of the game in Charlotte and North Carolina.