November 30, 2012
In the Limelight
Findlay's quiet leadership guides teamFor any team to succeed both on and off the playing the field, there needs to be someone at the head that can both motivate players and relate to them.
For Susquehanna men's soccer, that person is Jim Findlay. Findlay led the team on a streak to the Division III NCAA Sweet 16, earning the program's first NCAA tournament victory in the process. However, unlike some coaches who are better known for their antics than for their coaching ability, Findlay uses a light-hearted approach to get the maximum effort out of his players, which has resonated with them.
"[Findlay's] been a great mentor," senior goalkeeper Matt Salsman said. "He's taught me not to give up."
If current Crusaders players are in need of inspiration on the field, they do not need to look far. Findlay was a four-time all-conference selection for Wheeling Jesuit from 1992-1995, scoring 32 goals and finishing in the top five in school history in points.
Findlay has personal experience in a conference final, as he led his Cardinals to a comeback victory during his sophomore season in 1993, scoring three goals for the win.
While playing at Wheeling Jesuit, Findlay said that he learned his coaching style from watching the way his college soccer coach, Jim Regan, handled situations.
"[Regan] was very passionate about coaching, about the game," Findlay said. "He wasn't a win-at-all-costs person, but he was somebody that really wanted to win. The passion he showed made me want to play for him."
Salsman added that Findlay taught his players that good things will come if you work hard, which was the case this season. The preparation of the team showed as the Crusaders were repeatedly able to win tight games en route to the Sweet 16.
Buoyed in net by Salsman, the Crusaders escaped Cabrini at home in the first round of the tournament on penalty kicks in dramatic fashion after trailing 3-1 with two shots left.
After leaving Wheeling Jesuit in 1996, Findlay coached at Lycoming as an assistant before taking the reins at Susquehanna in 1998. Findlay built the Crusaders into a perennial conference contender, reaching their first conference championship in 2006
The Crusaders fell 2-0 to Elizabethtown in the Commonwealth Conference final that season, but Findlay led his squad back to the cusp of an NCAA tournament berth two years later, beating Catholic 1-0 in the Landmark Conference final.
"Even though we didn't win the [Elizabethtown] game, I think that kind of put our program on the map once and for all," Findlay said. "It was a great atmosphere."
If the conference final in 2006 against Elizabethtown didn't allow the Crusaders to receive national recognition, the past six seasons including two trips to the NCAA tournament likely has.
Findlay said that adding B.J. Merriam '11 this season as an assistant helped the team reach the NCAA tournament. Merriam started in goal for the Crusaders in 2008, during the team's first appearance on the national stage. The Crusaders fell 1-0 to Ohio Wesleyan in double overtime, and Merriam's play caught Findlay's attention.
"If it wasn't for some of the saves that he made, we might not have been there," Findlay said. "He's somebody that's very passionate about the program. I think he can relate to the current players."
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