Following the resignation of women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith on Nov. 15, the search for a replacement has begun in earnest.
Meredith’s resignation is the first major coaching change under new Director of Athletics Vicky Chun, who was appointed last spring. This past Monday, Yale’s Deputy Athletics Director Ann-Marie Guglieri held a meeting with one representative from the first-year, sophomore and junior classes on the Yale women’s soccer team to discuss the coaching search.
Though Meredith had many highlights over his 24 years as head coach, his resignation was not a total surprise to the team.
“He didn’t put as much effort into his job as you would hope for from a head coach,” said a former player on the team, who chose to remain anonymous in order to talk freely about Meredith. “He also struggled to motivate the team and connect with players in a way that would inspire us to play for him. We didn’t have practices that gave us the preparation necessary for games, in terms of fitness or scouting other teams or things in between. To put things in perspective, many players felt like they got worse over the four years playing at Yale.”
When asked about the critiques he has received, Meredith wished the best for the program going forward and reiterated his love for Yale and the people he has worked with here but noted that it was time for a change.
But not all players concur with the former player’s assessment.Current forward Michelle Alozie ’19 credits Meredith with helping her improve her performance during her junior year.
“Coach Rudy has been instrumental in fine tuning me as a player,” Alozie said. “I remember after my freshman season, I had a meeting with the coaches, and Coach Rudy told me something like, ‘Michelle, I believe you can be a better player than you think. But to get there, it is going to be a lot of hard work, and I am going to have to get on you so that you can grow into the player I know you can be.’”
In a press release announcing his departure, Chun thanked Meredith for his many years at Yale and his contributions to the women’s soccer program and offered her best wishes for him and his family in the future.
When asked for further comment, Chun clarified that she and Guglieri have solicited players’ feedback to determine what qualities they wanted to see in their new head coach. As she prepares to make her first major coaching appointment of her career as director of athletics, Chun stressed that communication between administrators, coaches and student-athletes is critical.
During his tenure, he led the Bulldogs to its first NCAA tournament in 2002, where they reached the second round, and the NCAA College Cup in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Meredith was also a three-time Northeast Region Coach of the Year.
However, with results souring over recent years — this past season left the Bulldogs with a disappointing 7–9–1 record (1–6 Ivy), and the Elis have finished the last four seasons with a winning record only once, reports of dissatisfaction from team members have surfaced.
“Obviously, we did not do well this year, and, although Rudy is a great guy, I think I can speak for most in saying that something had to change,” said a current player, who also asked for anonymity to speak candidly. “Motivation and desire to win were lacking all season, and we should all take responsibility for that — no doubt injuries played a small part too — but I don’t think he was as effective as perhaps he was in the past in inspiring us or turning that mindset around. So I think it’s a necessary change for the program, and he can leave proud knowing that he led this team for over 20 years. That’s a great legacy.”
While results have generally flagged in the last five years, the 2017 season was a bright spot for the squad. The Elis went 11–4–2 (4–2–1) and claimed third place in the Ivy League. Highlights included a six-game winning streak to start the season and a 3–0 win against bitter rivals Harvard.
That season, Alozie broke out with nine goals and five assists and won the 2017 Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
The search for the Bulldogs’ new head coach is already underway.
William Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org