INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - 2012 had already been a year to remember for Bill Bahr, head women’s soccer coach at Olivet Nazarene University. His Tigers had finished a historic season, culminating as NAIA runners-up. Then, on Friday, Jan. 18 at the National Soccer Coaches' Association of America (NSCAA) National Convention held in Indianapolis, Ind. he received the icing on the cake as he was named the 2012 NAIA National Coach of the Year and the NSCAA-NAIA Women's Soccer National Coach of the Year presented by FieldTurf.
“I am very excited for Coach Bahr. He is so deserving of this award,” commented senior defender Devin Johnston. “We could not have accomplished all that we did this season without him. He is a great spiritual leader, positive role model, and always wants the best for each of his players. He has such a passion for the game but more importantly for helping his players to follow Christ and represent Him on and off the field."
Bahr led the Tigers to a 19-4-1 record, including the programs first appearance in the NAIA National Championship game. In his 14-year coaching career, he has amassed a 187-105-23 record, ranking him 11th all-time amongst active NAIA coaches. He has been named the CCAC Coach of the Year three times, including this year. He has coached twelve NAIA All-Americans and 36 All-CCAC players. He has also had 49 players named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
The Tigers won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) regular season with a perfect 11-0 record, highlighted by an 11-game shut-out streak. For the first time in CCAC history, a team completed the regular season without allowing a single goal to be scored against them. The biggest disappointment, if one can be found, is the Tigers early exit from the CCAC Tournament. The Tigers fell 1-0 to Trinity Christian College (Ill.) in the semi-final round.
“Bill is certainly deserving of being named the NAIA Soccer Coach of the Year,” said Gary Newsome, Olivet’s Director of Athletics. “He has taken a team that has just one 2nd team NAIA All-American all the way to the national championship game. I believe he got the most out of the young ladies all year long, but especially that final week in Orange County, Ala. He is a true motivator, knows the ins and outs of the game, and truly has a love for those young ladies. They played their best for Coach Bahr.”
The Tigers, who entered the national tournament as a 12-seed, then found their glass slippers and turned into Cinderella. After defeating Viterbo University (Wis.) 2-1 at home in the opening round, the Tigers captured their first ever second-round victory with an upset of No. 5 seeded University of Mobile (Ala.). The quarterfinals game was a match-up of underdogs, as the Tigers faced unseeded University of Texas – Brownsville, winning 1-0.
“As I sat the semi-final luncheon and listened to him speak about his program it was a true example of what we’d like to accomplish throughout our association, through our Live 5 program,” commented Kristin Gillette, NAIA Director of Champions of Character. “The bonus is that his team is highly competitive and proof to show you can do it the right way and still compete.”
Olivet faced four-time defending national champions No. 1 seed Lee University (Tenn.) in the semi-finals. The two teams had faced each other earlier in the season, with Lee winning 1-0. Tied 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes, the game came down a shoot-out. One by one the Tigers calmly stepped up and shot rockets past Lee’s goal keeper, advancing 4-1 into the championship game. The Cinderella season came to an end against No. 2 Lindsey Wilson University (Ky.) in the final game, falling 3-2.
Bahr and the Tigers received numerous notes and emails from across the country after the tournament run, from fans and foes, complimenting them on their TEAM. Many mentioned that they could tell something was different with them. Bahr travels with a very unusual piece of equipment. He brings his guitar on the road with the team. Part of the team’s pregame routine included singing praise and worship songs. It helped maintain a sense of calmness, helped keep the players and the coaches relaxed.
“Before every game Coach Bahr reminded us that we play for a greater purpose,” continued Johnston. “People noticed a difference in our team at the national tournament and Coach Bahr was a huge part of that. He taught us that it is not all about winning the games but rather who we represent and play for. I have so much respect for him as a coach. He has made my soccer career at Olivet one I will never forget.”
Dwayne and Karen Pipal, parents of senior Meghan Pipal sum it up, “Coach Bahr has shown Meghan how to be a true Champion of Christ. He
is a true example of faith and humility, both on and off the field, and we are
ever so grateful that he was such an integral part in Meghan's life at O.N.U..
Every team wants to be noticed and respected, but what people noticed about
this team is that they truly live out their faith on the field as they play for
an audience of one. They have God-given talents and Coach Bahr has shown them
how to use these talents in a way to honor our Lord, Jesus Christ. We have been
truly blessed to have had Coach Bahr in Meghan's life as a coach, mentor and
friend these past four years. We are
thrilled that he has been recognized by the NAIA for his achievements and know
that in true Coach Bahr fashion, he will humbly accept the honors bestowed upon
him and give all the glory to God.”