TERRE HAUTE —
On Jan. 29, Mike Aycock got what he deserved — induction into the Indiana Soccer Hall of Fame.
It occurred during a ceremony in his original hometown of Indianapolis.
The Indiana Soccer Hall of Fame honors the “outstanding achievements and contributions of individuals whose significant accomplishments and effect upon the sport in Indiana merit the highest recognition.”
Sounds like Mike Aycock.
“To me, it’s an enormous honor,” he told me this week. “I think it’s such a big honor because Indiana has come so far in soccer over the last 30 years.”
Aycock, 61, has coached the soccer team at the all-women St. Mary-of-the-Woods College since 2000, but his background in the sport goes far beyond that.
He originally moved to Terre Haute to attend Indiana State University way back in 1969, then he decided to stay here permanently in 1974.
While at ISU, Aycock played on its men’s soccer club for about five years.
His first job in Terre Haute was teaching humanities at ISU.
In 1978, Aycock made his presence felt in the community by helping found the Vigo County Youth Soccer Association (VCYSA) with Fred Rusch and David Martin. He also became the VCYSA’s first president.
“There were some people in the community who had children who wanted to play [soccer],” Aycock recalled.
In 1980, Aycock was named the first — and as it turned out, only — men’s soccer coach in Indiana State history.
Aycock’s teams finished with 6-8 and 8-8 records — “which for a start-up program in [NCAA] D-I was pretty good,” he mentioned — before the sport got axed by the university’s administration in 1982.
“We had something going and we had it cut out from underneath us,” he explained, still wondering what could have been.
Already a full-time English teacher at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Aycock didn’t need to land another soccer job at the time. He waited until 1988 to become the boys coach at Terre Haute South High School.
One year before that, Aycock became a coach with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Olympic Development Program for Indiana boys, something he still does.
Meanwhile, he spent five years with the South boys. Then he turned his attention to guiding the school’s inaugural girls program in 1994. In 1998, his female Braves reached the semistate championship game at Evansville, where they lost to Evansville Memorial 3-0 to finish with a 15-7-1 mark.
During that time, I enjoyed dealing with Aycock after matches. He was always friendly and conducted himself with class, unlike another 1990s South coach who shall remain nameless.
Aycock left South after the ’98 season to build a soccer program at The Woods, which debuted under his leadership in 2000.
“Starting a program like that, it’s a task,” he admitted. “Starting at ISU [in 1980] was a little bit easier because of the recruiting.”
Aycock’s Pomeroys struggled to rack up victories in their early years. But in 2009 and 2010, they competed in the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament at Burlington, Vt. They finished second in ’09 and ended up with a program-best 8-7-2 overall record in ’10.
So there’s no doubt the program is on the rise.
“It’s very rewarding to work with these athletes,” Aycock noted. “They’re here because they love to play. We get a lot of fantastic student-athletes with great grade-point averages. It’s very gratifying to train with athletes who are great learners.”
Widely recognized as a clinician, Aycock owns national certifications from the U.S. Soccer Federation and he was named the winner of Indiana’s “Jay Fredrich Good of Soccer Award” in 2003.
Woods athletic director Deanna Bradley is glad to have Aycock on staff, describing him as a phenomenal coach.
“He is a fundamental strategist whose understanding of the game is beyond compare,” she added. “His commitment and passion for soccer cover the spectrum from youth to professional levels and we are blessed that he has chosen to share those talents at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College for the past 10 years. I can’t think of a more deserving and honorable coach to be inducted into the Indiana Soccer Hall of Fame.”
Looking to the future, Aycock doesn’t sound like a man ready to retire from coaching soon.
“I don’t have a limit on [how many more years],” he emphasized. “I still feel blessed to be able to get out there and do it.”
Married to Rose Aycock, Mike has five stepchildren and eight grandchildren.
David Hughes can be reached by phone after 4 p.m. at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.