24 years of Pilot soccer... and counting

By The Beacon | September 29, 2010 9:00pm

Bill Irwin, UP Director of Soccer, brings a wealth of coaching and practical experience to The Bluff

By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Writer -- garlingh13@up.edu

University of Portland's Director of Soccer Bill Irwin never planned on staying this long but he's happy he did.

Director of Soccer Bill Irwin has been coaching soccer at UP for 24 years, longer than any of his current players have even been alive.

During those 24 years Irwin has been a part of two Women's National Championships, and four Final Four appearances with the men. According to Irwin, 24 years was never part of his plan.

"I didn't think I'd be here this long," Irwin said, "but I enjoy the people and they care of us here."

Irwin came to Portland after former teammate and University of Portland Athletic Hall of Famer Clive Charles offered him an assistant coaching job.

"It was a lot of fun playing with Clive," Irwin said. "It wasn't like work because we enjoyed each other."

Irwin said his work under Charles continues to have a big influence on the way he coaches. Irwin said that he's tried to integrate Charles' philosophy and the way he treats people in his coaching style.

Before coming to UP Irwin played professional soccer for 17 years. He began playing when he was 16 years old for a semi-professional team in Northern Ireland, and then in England where he played eight seasons for Cardiff City.

Irwin then took his talents to the U.S., where he played for several teams including the Washington Diplomats, the Dallas Tornado, the Golden Bay Earthquakes, the Minnesota Strikers and the Wichita Wings.

Irwin said his professional experience has also helped him in his coaching.

"I can relate to the players because I was one," Irwin said.

Irwin isn't only limited to the collegiate level. He is also the head coach of the U-23 Women's National Team. Irwin said that his experience with the national team has helped him in coaching at UP.

"Coaching the national team helps out a lot," said Irwin. "You get to see different systems and different cultures. The game is such that you never stop learning."

Being the Director of Soccer, Irwin is not only the men's head coach, but is also very involved with the women's soccer team. But Irwin says he sees no difference between the two teams and doesn't have a preference.

"I don't see gender, I just see soccer players," Irwin said.

Added to his resume of coaching and playing, Irwin is a goalie specialist. In his 24 years of coaching at UP, all the goalies that have trained under him have gone on to play professionally, including Kasey Keller, who played in four World Cups and captained the 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta.

"I enjoy seeing people do well. My job is to help people achieve their goal," Irwin said.

It may come as a surprise, but coaching at UP and nationally is still not the only coaching Irwin does. He has also helped coach boys U-15 and U-18 teams and girls U-15 and U-16 teams.

"Its refreshing working with younger players. But sometimes they drive you crazy," Irwin said.