Oftentimes, when a new coach speaks to media for the first time, they will talk of building a program from the ground up. Many coaches like to say things about creating a culture and doing things the right way.
At Colorado College, men’s soccer Head Coach Horst Richardson not only built a program of integrity and academic excellence over the past 50 years, he also built a family.
“Horst runs our team like it’s family, and it really is a band of brothers,” said senior defender Andrew Worthington. “Horst and his wife do so much for us. From having us over and cooking amazing dinners to gifts at the end of the year. It’s unbelievable. Horst and his wife are certainly the patriarch and matriarch of the Colorado College soccer family.”
Richardson served as a part of the men’s soccer program for 50 years. His service to the school did not end at the soccer pitch; he was a German professor at the college until 2007. Up until the renovation of El Pomar Sports Center, Richardson ran the program out of his German office in Armstrong Hall.
“I thank innumerable German secretaries over time for dealing with assisting me,” Richardson said with a chuckle.
Richardson steps down as Head Coach following a historic and successful season for the Tigers. His squad posted a 15-4-2 record the best for any team since 2004. The Tigers two losses came at the hands of their familiar foe, Trinity University. Following a runner-up finish in the SCAC tournament, the Tigers narrowly missed making the NCAA DIII tournament.
“This particular season has been rewarding—wonderful competition, and lots of awards for the guys and the team. It’s sort of a high point,” said Richardson. “So [my wife] Helen and I thought it was time to ‘step down’ as they say.”
Richardson is a decorated coach. He was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame this year and has received five NSCAA regional coach-of-the-year awards.
Richardson’s presence was felt on the field as is evidenced by the men’s soccer program continued success, but Richardson’s greatest impact may well have been on the lives of the players that passed through his program.
“Horst is a father figure to every single kid on this team,” said Worthington. “Horst is the kind of guy who we can talk to about anything; it’s never strictly about soccer.”
“The family stretches beyond the people on individual teams,” Morgan Wack, currently a senior, and former midfielder for the Tigers said. “He’s built such a strong organization around alumni and people that have been on the team that it seems like a family that stretches the span of time.”
While Richardson is stepping down from his post as head soccer coach, he will still play a role within the program for years to come.
“I don’t think that this program would be able to handle him leaving outright. It would be so hard losing someone that has been such a big part for so long,” said Worthington.
Richardson understands that he has been an integral part of Colorado College and knows his presence will be needed in years to come.
“Whether it’s keeping up correspondence with the alumni, [working on] recruiting, or going to a tournament here or there,” said Richardson. “At the very least, my wife will keep on cooking meals for hungry soccer players. That’s been a real distinguishing feature of the program.”
Although he may have announced his retirement, Richardson will continue as head coach of the soccer team until after their European tour, which will take them through London, Sweden, Denmark, and northern Germany in May and June of 2015. Richardson believes that the next coach, whoever that may be, will have a leg up on the competition from the start.
Director of Athletics Ken Ralph says that plans are already being made to find Richardson’s successor. Ralph says that Senior Associate Director of Athletics Greg Capell will lead the search for a new coach.
“We think there’s going to be some pretty significant interest with the job, and we’re going to do a little bit of outreach as well as national advertising,” said Ralph about the coaching search.
He went on to add that the Athletic Department will conduct a nationwide search for the position.
“We think we owe it to Horst’s legacy that we get the best candidate here,” said Ralph.
The Athletic Department hopes to have a new coach named and in place before the team begins spring practices.
As Ralph describes it, it would shift Richardson into, “This would shift Horst into a coach emeritus type situation where he would help with the transition process,” said Ralph. “He’s going to help us in terms of the orientation of the new coach, , getting them up to speed on everything happening on campus, introduce them around, get them to know the team, help finalize recruiting, all those kind of things, while he’s still engaged.”
Capell will organize a search committee to select Horst’s successor. The committee will include a currently enrolled student, a Division III sports coach, a faculty athletic representative, an alumni representative, and two members of the Athletic Department here at CC, as well as representatives from both Women’s Concerns and Minority Concerns.
Although Richardson will not have an official seat on the search committee, Ralph says the Athletic Department wants to keep him in the loop about the decision.
“If you dedicate 50 years of your life to something, you want to make sure that your legacy continues, and we want to make sure he has that opportunity,” said Ralph. “There are a lot of schools that aren’t blessed with the same popularity or endowment as we are here at CC.”
Half a decade is a mind-boggling amount of time to stick with a program and the Richardson’s don’t have any plans to leave the place that has been close to their hearts for much of their adult lives.
“My wife and I are not the kind of individuals who are going to sell our house next July and move to Florida. We are indeed wedded to Colorado College,” said Richardson.
From his seat in the gleaming El Pomar Sports Center Richardson shared some final words.
“Retirement is too final. I like stepping down, moving on. You don’t want to use ‘riding off into the sunset’—that sort of means never to return again, but it’s a transition to another phase of my life,” said Richardson.