Westminster soccer coach named National Soccer Coach of the Year
For the past 28 years, Chris Dorich hasn’t had the luxury of many blue-chippers coming through Westminster College’s mens soccer program. Often, premier high school players land scholarships at major universities or opt to continue their careers elsewhere.
That’s exactly the kind of challenge Dorich relishes. Responsible for instilling in his players the will to win -- while furthering their academic careers -- the veteran coach was recognized for his efforts by being named National Soccer Coach of the Year by the United States Adult Soccer Association.
“I was really surprised because it’s a tough award to win,” Dorich said. “It’s an award achieved because of hard work. You have to really work at coaching; you can’t be a social director. If you work hard at something, you reap some benefits of that hard work. You can’t assume you’re going to win games.”
Dorich was named one of four regional coaches of the year before being nominated for the national honor. Region 4, which includes Utah, covers much of the West Coast. Following the regional distinction, members of the other three regions vote on a national award recipient.
“It’s pretty legitimate because you can’t get National Coach of the Year without the other regions voting for you,” Dorich said. “There’s a lot of good competition. Utah is not a big state, not even at the (U.S. Soccer) federation level. The work ethic it takes to do the job sets you apart.”
His resume at Westminster speaks volumes about the time and effort Dorich has put into coaching. Through 28 seasons, his teams have won 271 games, qualified for the NAIA playoffs 21 times and enjoyed 10-plus wins in a single season 10 times, including six straight from 1990-95. Perhaps more impressively, the soccer program has produced 90 Academic All-Americans since his tenure began in 1984.
“We might be over 100 this year,” Dorich said. “The challenge is to take kids who are not here to be athletes. Guys here want to be lawyers, doctors and different types of professionals. It’s really an academically sound institution. As long as I’m successful with the academic part, and also do well with the soccer part, I’ll keep coaching until I can’t do it anymore.”
This season, the Griffins finished 10-6-2 overall and 1-2-1 in the three-team Frontier Conference, missing out on the playoffs by a single goal. Westminster ended the season with a 3-0 loss to California State University, San Marcos. Still, Westminster posted another double-digit winning season.
Dorich started playing soccer in 1968. He began his collegiate career as a fullback and striker at Edinboro State University (Penn.) and also played at Gannon in Erie. He graduated from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Penn., with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1975. Dorich earned his MBA from Westminster in 1996 and his Master of Science in technology management in 2007.
“When I first got here (Utah), soccer was brand new,” Dorich recalled.
Along with coaching, Dorich is the Executive Vice President of the Utah Soccer Association, where he also serves as state coaching director. He coaches the SS Lazio Soccer Club and is a member of the USASA National Team coaching staff, leading training camps in California.