For every student that has attended AU, there has been no shortage of influential figures to look up to. Whether that influence be made in the classroom or on the field, many of these figures have left lasting legacies on campus. Through selfless service and altruistic values, long-standing men’s soccer coach Scott Fridley is a true-to-form example of the kind of lasting legacy that has helped make AU’s men’s soccer program what we see in action today.
Stretching back to around 1986, Fridley could be found at the center of the soccer team’s beginnings as a student on campus. Without an official team to represent AU, Fridley and others who were equally passionate about soccer started to organize a team for competitive games.
“When I came for an exploration weekend, I saw a bunch of guys that just wanted to play soccer,” Fridley said.
The first official collegiate game wouldn’t happen until 1989, but Fridley was still ever-present as the goalkeeper for that first squad.
Fridley opted to stick with the program he helped build from the ground up, joining as assistant coach a mere month after graduating from AU in 1990. Three years later, he became the head coach.
Now entering his 30th year in the program and his 26th year as head coach, the impression Fridley has left at AU can be described as massive.
With two HCAC Regular Season Championships, two HCAC Conference Tournament Championships and a slew of other academic, ethical and team awards to his team’s name, Fridley has had no shortage of measurable success.
For Fridley, the best rewards are not the countless quantifiable ones, but the ones that are harder to measure.
The program set in place by Fridley is one that has always valued growth on and off the field, which has helped to cultivate a network of proud current and former players.
“We have to be great ambassadors of our sport,” said Fridley. “I think the players and the alumni sum up the program well, and have been great representatives of us. It’s helped us build a solid base for the next generation of soccer.”
Danny Collins, a senior and captain for the season, has been one such representative of the program for four years.
“The values instilled in the soccer program are taught to you from the day you begin,” Collins said. “Coach has always taught us to be honest servants and leaders on and off the field.”
The field that Collins darts across today is not exactly the same field Fridley blocked shots on in 1989. This is due to the extensive improvements made throughout the years, with the players themselves having a large hand in the process.
“The guys’ work on the field is important,” said Fridley. “It helps them appreciate what we’re doing, and teaches them to take care of the things that we have. I’m a firm believer in sweat-equity.”
Currently, the field is going through a three-stage building project funded primarily by donations.
Another aspect pertinent to the program’s agenda is exposing players to the global reaches of soccer by traveling abroad. During the most recent off-season, the men’s team traveled to various locations in Europe. The team can be found traveling to play teams from as far as Georgia.
“The player experience is wrapped up in two things: memories and experiences,” Fridley said. “I want to give as many of those two things as possible. I want the guys to see things and experience things. It adds a little bit of something else to the process. It adds that piece of the puzzle.”
After almost 30 years of being an integral part of AU’s soccer programs, Fridley is not ready to step away from teaching today’s youth about the sport he loves.
“I feel very fortunate that God put me in this role, for this institution and for these kids,” Fridley said. “I feel blessed that I can come to work every day at a job I love. If you’re doing what you love, it never feels like work. I’m blessed that I’m able to do this.”
The last 30 years of men’s soccer would not exist in the same light as the program does now without Fridley’s impact. The foundation of the sport of soccer at AU has been built on strong values, robust work ethic and influential leaders like Fridley.