The Notre Dame Women's Soccer team took part in the 2009 Women's College Cup Media Day.
When Notre Dame went searching for a women's soccer coach in 1999, the University was looking for an experienced tactician and motivator to lead the NCAA's second-winningest program of the 1990s. Notre Dame found exactly what it was looking for in Randy Waldrum, a veteran of coaching at nearly every level who built Notre Dame into the 2004 and 2010 national champions and has kept the Irish among the nation's elite year after year, compiling a stellar 263-44-14 (.841) record during his first 13 seasons under the Golden Dome.
From his first coaching job at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, to leading Notre Dame to a pair of national championships, Waldrum has been recognized by U.S. Soccer as one of the game's top soccer minds. He has held a position on the U.S. national team coaching staff since 1992, including his current role as the head coach of the United States Under-23 Women's National Team (a position he accepted in January 2012), and in 2010, he completed a successful tenure as president for the nearly 30,000-member National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Waldrum has taken Notre Dame to new heights in recent years, guiding the Irish to 169 victories in the past eight seasons (an average of better than 21 wins per year), along with six NCAA College Cups, four national championship matches and two NCAA titles from 2004-11. He also continues to draw on the lessons learned from 30 combined seasons in the college coaching ranks (446-149-30 record/.736), providing the Irish program with the full package in its head coaching position. A respected student of the game, Waldrum has combined with his staff to consistently attract some of the nation's top talent. In the past 10 years alone, Notre Dame's incoming classes all have been rated among the top 10 in the nation (punctuated by the freshman class of 2012 that was rated No. 1 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer) and highlighted by several elite individuals who have quickly made the transition to the college game.
Waldrum's first 13 Notre Dame teams continued the program's tradition of excellence by combining to win 11 BIG EAST regular-season and seven BIG EAST Championship titles, and advancing to the NCAA Championship each year - including NCAA Women's College Cup national semifinal trips in 2000, 2007 and 2009, national runner-up finishes in 1999, 2006 and 2008, and national championships in 2004 and 2010. The Irish also have posted a 72-31-4 (.692) record against NSCAA Top 25 teams during the 13-year Waldrum era.
Waldrum's .782 career winning percentage (370-94-26) in 22 seasons as a women's coach ranks fourth all-time among skippers with 10-plus seasons on the Division I level (second among active coaches). During his years at Notre Dame, Waldrum has matched wits versus seven other coaches who are ranked among the top 10 on that list and the Irish own a solid 20-17-1 (.539) record in those games featuring matchups against top national coaches. In those games, Waldrum has guided the Irish to winning records versus Jerry Smith's Santa Clara team (9-5-1), Mark Krikorian's Florida State crew (3-1-0) and Becky Burleigh's Florida program (2-0-0) - plus a split of two matches each versus Portland (when they were directed by the late Clive Charles) and UCLA (when they were led by Jillian Ellis).
Not only have the Irish totaled a +219 win-to-loss margin in the Waldrum era (263-44-14), but they also have won better than 76 percent of their "big matches" when facing an NSCAA Top 25 or postseason opponent on his watch (109-32-5, .764). Five of the top six goals-against averages (GAA) in program history also have been posted during the Waldrum era (0.39 in 2000, 0.40 in `06, 0.44 in `08, 0.49 in `03 and 0.51 in 2004, with the record of 0.36 set in 1997).
Waldrum's Notre Dame players have combined for 27 All-America honors - led by 2000 national player of the year Anne Makinen, high-scoring forward standout Katie Thorlakson (who received 2004 player-of-the-year honors), the program's first two-time Hermann Trophy recipient (and the fourth in Division I history) in Kerri Hanks (2006 and 2008) and 2010 Honda Sports Award selection Melissa Henderson. Irish players in the Waldrum era also have combined for 18 Academic All-America awards, including rare double honors (All-America and Academic All-America) for 2001 defender Monica Gonzalez, forward/midfielder Brittany Bock (in 2007 and 2008) and versatile defender/forward Lauren Fowlkes (in 2009 and 2010, only the 13th Notre Dame student-athlete to pull off this double twice). The 2003 squad also became the first in Division I women's soccer history to produce three Academic All-Americans, as defender Vanessa Pruzinsky was named Academic All-American of the Year, while forward Mary Boland and goalkeeper Erika Bohn were second-team selections. Bohn was then tapped as a first-team choice in 2004 and 2005, joining Pruzinsky as two of the 10 three-time Academic All-Americans in Notre Dame athletics history.
The 2011 season was a difficult one for Notre Dame, which suffered numerous close losses as seven of their eight setbacks came by one goal (including four against ranked opponents, all on the road). Yet, the Irish found their footing down the stretch with nine wins in their final 13 matches, including five by shutout, and reached the BIG EAST Championship semifinals before collecting their 19th consecutive NCAA Championship berth.
Notre Dame returned to the top of the college soccer world in 2010, as Waldrum's charges bounced back from an uncharacteristic early exit from the BIG EAST Tournament with a historic run through the NCAA Championship. Despite a curiously-low No. 4 seed in their NCAA quadrant, the Irish ran roughshod through the opposition, winning their six tournament matches by a combined 15-1 margin (five shutouts), including four wins over other seeded teams, two of which were No. 1 seeds.
Waldrum also led Notre Dame to its 11th BIG EAST regular-season title and seven wins in eight matches against NSCAA Top 25 opponents during the 2010 campaign, including a a perfect 4-0 mark against top-10 squads. For his efforts, the NSCAA selected Waldrum as its National Coach of the Year, the second consecutive year that he garnered a national coaching accolade (he was the `09 Soccer America award recipient).
Waldrum's coaching savvy was on full display in that 2009 season, as he calmly steered Notre Dame back from an injury-ravaged 3-3-0 start with a 19-match unbeaten streak (18-0-1) that included 13 consecutive wins during the final two months of the season. The Irish also rolled up 13 shutouts in that 19-match run and charged all the way to their fourth consecutive College Cup appearance, collecting their 11th BIG EAST Tournament crown along the way.
The 2008 season was arguably one of the best in Waldrum's storied coaching career, as he piloted Notre Dame to a school-record 26 victories (all to start the season) and a fourth NCAA College Cup berth in five seasons, as well as a third trip to the national championship match in that span. The Irish also collected their 10th BIG EAST postseason title with a dramatic 1-0 overtime win over Connecticut and trailed for only 4:05 all season, with Notre Dame fielding three All-Americans (Hanks, Bock, Carrie Dew) and the Hermann Trophy recipient, as well as four major BIG EAST award winners, including Waldrum's fifth coach of the year honor.
Waldrum coached the Irish to the College Cup weekend once again in 2007, as he helped the team overcome key injuries and a punishing early-season slate. The Irish went on a 17-match unbeaten streak (16-0-1) before falling in the College Cup semifinals, climbing all the way to No. 4 in the final national rankings. In addition, Hanks and Bock were named NSCAA first team All-Americans, marking the first time since 1995 that two forwards from the same team have received first team All-America honors. Bock led the BIG EAST with 10 goals during conference play, while her 16 total goals ranked 11th in the nation. Hanks became the 19th player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 50 goals and 50 assists plateau, with five of those 19 coming from Notre Dame (and four having played for Waldrum at some point in their careers).
In 2006, Waldrum and his staff coached an Irish squad that still rates among the most dominant in Notre Dame history. The Irish held the nation's top ranking for most of the season and did not lose until the national title match, tying the (then) team record for wins in a season (25-1-1) while becoming just the second women's soccer program ever to reach 25 wins in multiple seasons. Only four schools in the 31-year history of Division I women's soccer have had at least 25 wins in one or more seasons (something Notre Dame has done three times, all under Waldrum's tutelage).
Waldrum's 2006 squad led the nation with a team-record 19 shutouts while the 0.40 goals-against average ranked third nationally and was just shy of the Notre Dame record (0.36). The Irish also compiled the nation's top scoring margin (+74; 85-11) and had 28 more goals than their opponents' combined shots on goal (57). Notre Dame allowed a per-game average of only 2.11 shots on goal - setting another team record - and the Irish did not face a deficit for 16 consecutive matches prior to the NCAA final. Hanks collected the first of her two Hermann Trophies that year while joining former UNC great Mia Hamm as the only Division I players ever to end a season as the national leader in both goals (22) and assists (22).
Waldrum's 2005 team turned in another historic season, entering the year ranked No. 1 and leading the nation in scoring (4.40 goals per game). More impressively, the 2005 team's goal total (110, good for 10th in NCAA history) was more than twice the number of shots on goal allowed by the Irish for the entire season (54, with only 15 opponent goals). The Irish rolled up a 60-3 scoring margin during a 13-match winning streak late in the 2005 season. The streak - which saw the Irish allow only two opponent shots on goal - ended in an NCAA quarterfinal loss at eventual national champion Portland.
The 2005 season also featured four All-Americans - Thorlakson, Hanks, Candace Chapman and Jen Buczkowski - who were among the final-15 candidates for the Hermann Trophy as well. Those players each received top BIG EAST honors in 2005 (Thorlakson on offense, Chapman on defense, Buczkowski as best midfielder, Hanks as top rookie), marking the first time that one team had claimed four major BIG EAST player awards. Thorlakson (18G-35A) and Hanks (28G-15A) also became the second pair of teammates in Division I history to eclipse 70 points in the same season.
The nation's only repeat honoree as his region's NSCAA coach of the year in 2003 and `04, Waldrum's clever use of personnel played a key role in the 2004 team's sustained success and postseason push, making efficient use of the roster in order to utilize the team's depth to keep the top players fresh for the postseason (19 different players started in 2004). He also used a variety of formations and made a key decision to install the veteran Chapman at forward, following a broken leg suffered by her classmate Boland. Chapman had not played forward since high school but she responded with an all-BIG EAST season as the team's second-leading scorer (12G-8A).
The 2004 squad posted (at the time) the best winning percentage in program history (.944, 25-1-1), with only three previous Division I teams winning more games in a season. They also finished fourth in the nation with a 0.51 season goals-against average while totaling nearly as many goals (70) as opponent shots on goal (71) and trailing only 102 minutes all season. On the way to the title, Notre Dame beat three Top 25 teams twice (Santa Clara, Boston College and Connecticut), while adding noteworthy wins over Portland, Stanford, West Virginia, Villanova, Michigan and Arizona State. The 2003 and 2004 teams combined to win more than 90 percent of their matches (45-4-2) - a two-year mark that was bettered by the 2005 and 2006 Irish teams (47-4-1).
The Waldrum era began in 1999, with his first five years coinciding with the career of defensive enforcer Pruzinsky, the classic definition of student-athlete who graduated with a 4.00 cumulative GPA as a chemical engineering major while also competing for a spot on the final roster for the U.S. U-21 National Team. Pruzinsky returned for a fifth year of eligibility in 2003 and was named the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for women's soccer, also receiving a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
Waldrum became the first coach in NCAA women's soccer history (third total) to lead his/her team to the national championship match in his first season with a team, after guiding his 1999 squad to four consecutive wins in the NCAAs. Three previous first-year coaches had reached the semifinals (doing so in the days of 12- and 16-team NCAA fields), but perhaps none had led a team through a harder route than Waldrum did against the 48-team draw in 1999. The Irish defeated Atlantic-10 champion Dayton and eighth-ranked Stanford (the Pac-10 champ) before toppling fourth-ranked and Big 12 champion Nebraska in the quarterfinals via a nail-biting penalty kick shootout.
The rookie coach had the fifth-seeded Irish clicking in their first three rounds of the 1999 NCAA tournament - with that momentum continuing at the College Cup. Earlier in the 1999 regular season, Notre Dame had suffered a 4-2 loss at top-ranked Santa Clara. In the rematch at the NCAA semifinals, Waldrum motivated his team with surprise green jerseys. The Irish responded with an inspired performance in a 1-0 win over the Broncos, as an NCAA-record total of 14,000 fans looked on at San Jose's Spartan Stadium. Despite a loss in the title match two days later, Waldrum had taken Notre Dame further than any previous first-year head coach in Division I women's soccer history.
A new challenge awaited in 2000, as Notre Dame looked to replace five graduated starters - three of them All-Americans, and a fourth the team's all-time leading goal scorer. Under Waldrum's steady hand, the Irish overcame the loss of two injured starters for good chunks of the 2000 season and returned to the top of the rankings, led by a stingy defense that posted a national-best 0.39 goals-against average.
Makinen, the leader of the 2000 midfield unit, went on to earn national player-of-the-year honors while the 2000 Irish posted a 23-1-1 overall record, with the only blemishes being a scoreless battle at BIG EAST rival Connecticut and a 2-1 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA semifinals. The Irish trailed for just 35 minutes all season and captured another BIG EAST crown, with Waldrum repeating as BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
The 2001 squad then claimed the program's seventh consecutive BIG EAST title (only UConn women's basketball had won more consecutive BIG EAST titles, among team-oriented sports) while posting noteworthy wins over Penn State and Nebraska. A series of injuries to key players slowed the 2002 squad but the Irish rallied down the stretch before losing on a late goal at top-ranked Stanford in the NCAA round of 16.
The 2003 squad (20-3-1) returned atop the national scene, owning the No. 2 national ranking for most of the season while emerging as one of the nation's most balanced teams on both sides of the ball - led by a pair of All-Americans in forward Amy Warner and defender Melissa Tancredi.
Waldrum - who served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Women's U-18 and U-20 national teams in the late 1990s, setting the stage for his current role at the helm of the U-23 squad - came to Notre Dame after beginning the Baylor women's soccer program from scratch in 1995, ultimately leading the Bears to a 9-0-1 Big 12 Conference record and their first Big 12 championship in any sport in 1998.
In three seasons at Baylor, Waldrum guided the Bears to a 46-14-3 record after he spent 1995-96 starting up the program. He earned Big 12 Conference and NSCAA Central Region coach-of-the-year honors after finishing with a 15-5-1 record in `98. The Bears posted wins over three ranked teams to earn their first NCAA bid and were ranked as high as 12th during the season. He was named the 1996 national coach of the year for a first-year program and likewise, Baylor was chosen by Soccer Buzz as the nation's best first-year program in 1996 after posting a 17-3-1 season.
Prior to his tenure at Baylor, Waldrum spent six seasons (1989-94) as head coach of the men's and women's teams at the University of Tulsa, compiling a 66-33-6 record with the men and a 61-36-9 mark with the women (he remains the winningest all-time coach of both programs). He was voted Central Region coach of the year in 1990 after the Golden Hurricane finished 9-6-1. His Tulsa women's teams produced four all-region players, six Academic All-Americans and two Olympic Festival players.
Waldrum's 1993 Tulsa men's team finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference and fourth in the region with a 10-6-2 record, earning Waldrum MVC and Midwest Region coach-of-the-year honors. His 1991 team won the MVC championship, finishing with a 14-3-0 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. His men's teams produced seven All-Americans, two national team members, three U.S. Olympic Festival players and three Professional Indoor Soccer League draft selections. While at Tulsa, Waldrum also served as the state coach for the Olympic Development Program.
Waldrum started a first-year men's program at Texas Wesleyan in 1988 and earlier had his first collegiate head coaching position at Austin College in 1982. He served as director of coaching for the Texas Longhorns Soccer Club from 1987-89, coaching one of the seven teams in the club while overseeing the other teams. His team went 53-4-1 and finished third in the country, with Waldrum coaching and developing two Parade All-Americans, two national team players and one Youth World Cup player with the Longhorns.
Waldrum earned all-district honors all four years of his playing career at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, graduating in 1981 as a physical education major and political science minor. He then played professionally for the Los Angeles Skyhawks and the Indianapolis Daredevils of the American Soccer League.
Waldrum, a native of Irving, Texas, and his wife Dianna have one son, Ben, who competed in professional soccer with the A-League's El Paso Patriots and the MISL's Dallas Sidekicks. Ben also served as an assistant coach on his father's staff at Notre Dame from 2003-07.