A native of Detroit, Michigan, Jay
Vidovich, 2016 NC Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, first made
his mark in soccer circles by earning all-state honors at
New Canaan (Conn.) High School. His college playing experience
included one year with the 1978 nationally-ranked Indiana
Hoosiers and three seasons with Ohio Wesleyan, where he
served as captain for the 1982 NCAA semi-finalists.
His coaching career began at the
University of Denver, where he served as varsity assistant
for the 1982 Pioneers, NAIA Regional Division II champions.
In 1983, he would move down the road to Regis (CO) College
as an assistant and would follow that with two years (1984-85)
in the same role at Ohio Wesleyan, his alma mater, where
he would work with a team that would rank in the top ten
nationally. It would be a sign of things to come that during
Jay’s first four years of coaching he would have a
part in developing seven All-Americans and 18 All-West or
All-Mideast nominees. That knack for helping to shape such
talent would not go unnoticed, and soccer in North Carolina
was about to become the beneficiary.
In 1986, Vidovich would begin his
long career with Wake Forest, first as an assistant to incoming
coach Walt Chyzowych, a legend in American soccer. The two
men shared the sideline until Walt’s untimely death
in 1994, and in that time, with his mentor’s guidance,
Jay turned out a number of outstanding players, including
several that represented the U.S. internationally. He would
become head coach of the Deacon men in 1994.
In the next 21 years, Vidovich would
lead a program that would rank as one of the ACC’s
finest. His overall record of 272-121-50 was highlighted
by a 195-68-38 mark in the last 15 seasons (2000-2014).
The Deacons would reach the NCAA’s in 14 of those
years, and would be a top seed in three. They would also
become only the ninth school in NCAA history to advance
to soccer’s final four, the College Cup, four straight
times (2006-2009), with the highlight being 2007. In that
year Wake Forest compiled a 22-2-2 record, gaining the most
wins in school history and capped the year off with wins
over Virginia Tech 2-0 and Ohio State 2-1 for the Deacon’s
first national title.
In 2009, Wake become the first school
to have four players selected in the first round of the
MLS SuperDraft and by the beginning of 2010 they had 21
players competing on a professional level. There have been
so many success stories that mentioning all names becomes
impossible, but one that should be noted is that of Goalkeeper
William Hesmer, WFU’s first-ever NSCAA first team
All-America in 2003 and a 2014 inductee into the NC Soccer
Hall of Fame.
Vidovich himself would garner a number
of awards in his time with Wake Forest. Among them, he was
ACC Coach of the Year five times (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008
and 2009) and National Coach of the year in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, he would also receive the Chyzowych Achievement
Award, capping an incredible year for soccer and the Deacons.
After the 2014 season, Jay Vidovich
left Wake Forest and took coaching duties involving the
MLS Portland Timbers. But a short time later, in late 2015,
it was announced that he would take the head men’s
coaching job at the University of Pittsburgh in …
you guessed it… the ACC. It is not likely to be long
before we start hearing about an up and coming team made
up of rapidly improving players in the Steel City. Welcome
back, Coach. And welcome to the North Carolina Soccer Hall
of Fame, Class of 2016.