In his 10th year at the helm of Yale women’s soccer, head coach Rudy Meredith earned his 100th career victory in a 2-1 win over Colgate last weekend. With an overall record of 100-64-11, Meredith has had more victories than any other women’s soccer coach in Yale history.
“I try to create an enjoyable environment where the kids want to train and want to be out there,” Meredith said. “I’m a firm believer that you can work hard and have fun at the same time.”
Meredith first joined the program as an assistant coach in 1992. That same year, the Bulldogs collected their first and only Ivy Championship in women’s soccer. Meredith took over a struggling program three years later at the age of 25.
“When I took over the program we were below .500,” Meredith said. “My first goal was to get us back to .500, and then after we did that our next goal was to get to the NCAA Tournament. We did that two years ago.”
In 2002, Meredith coached the Elis to their first NCAA Tournament birth. The Bulldogs upset Villanova in the first round before dropping a crushing 1-0 decision to Nebraska in the second round.
By the season’s end, Meredith was named the Northeast Region Coach of the Year while his Elis won 13 games for the second time during his tenure, tying the school record for wins.
But Meredith is not content to sit on 100 victories.
“The other thing we haven’t done [recently] is win an Ivy League Championship,” Meredith said. “So I think that’s our next goal, or to get further in the Tournament. Over all, our long-term goal is to be consistently a top 20 team [in the nation].”
Meredith, now considered a veteran coach, said he remembers how nervous he was in his first year as head coach at Yale.
“It was a little intimidating at first, being at Yale, and being a kid growing up with a learning disability,” Meredith said. “My assistant coach, Fritz Rodriguez, has been with me the whole time. We were best friends in high school and roommates in college. That helps a lot. There’s a comfort zone [between us] that I don’t think I could have with any other coach. It’s almost like working with your brother.”
There was a time when Meredith was not sure he would be a fixture in the Yale program. Four years ago, he was offered the head coaching position at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but he turned it down.
“I thought, ‘this is where I want to be,'” Meredith said. “I love working for [Yale Athletic Director] Tom Beckett. I feel like there’s a lot of good things we can do here. I like the challenge of us trying to beat the UConns and the Santa Claras because people don’t think you can do it, but I think we can.”
Despite his success, Meredith’s attention is not just focused on the sport. He got married this past summer to Wesleyan women’s soccer head coach Eva Bergsten-Meredith.
This year’s women’s soccer seniors say Meredith is a coach that knows how to keep the game fun while working hard.
“He always tries to come up with plays to make things fun,” midfielder Mia Arakaki ’05 said. “He knows that we have to work hard, but he’ll incorporate that into a fun drill. For example, we’ll always have music before games. I guess he used to be a DJ, it makes things a lot more relaxed.”
Arakaki added that Meredith is also very competitive when it is time to play.
“He’s able to have this seemingly fun and relaxed atmosphere and at the same time he never loses sight of wanting to win,” Arakaki said.
Defender Lindsay Demaree ’05 said Meredith creates an environment where players want to perform well for him.
“He’s a really down to earth, friendly coach,” Demaree said. “I think that a lot of people like him as a person, so they like to play for him.”