By Jordan Hall
Charlie Inverso finds inspiration from his father, a hard-working man who spent long nights at Rider in order to receive his diploma. Now, Inverso plans to give back to the university that afforded his role model an education by trying to turn the tide of the men’s soccer program.
“It’s a great school,” he said. “My dad went here and I’m very proud to say that.”
Following the retirement on Dec. 5 of longtime head coach Russ Fager, Athletic Director Don Harnum engineered the search for his replacement, and Inverso, a local legend, proved to be the ideal fit.
The new leader of the Broncs left a legacy at Mercer County Community College, where he spent 24 years guiding the men’s soccer team to a multitude of championships. Inverso created a junior college juggernaut, collecting five national crowns and tallying 434 wins and only 46 defeats in his tenure.
“After a national search that attracted a quality pool of candidates, it became increasingly apparent that the best fit for us was the guy who does not have to change addresses in accepting the job,” Harnum said.
The Robbinsville, N.J., resident was born and raised in Trenton, and now has the opportunity to steer the Broncs back to success.
Inverso’s father, Teddy Inverso, graduated from Rider in 1950, but he didn’t do so in typical fashion. His mentor needed eight years to earn his bachelor’s degree because of difficult circumstances.
“It took him eight years because he did night school and worked a full-time job,” said Inverso.
To his father, the drawn out hours in the classroom were worth the reward, an honor no one in his family had ever received.
“He was the first one in his family to get a college a degree,” said Inverso. “I hope I can bring some of his work ethic to the campus.”
Inverso fell in the love with the game at an early age. As a fifth grader, he adopted soccer, and blocks from Rider’s campus at Notre Dame High School, he discovered a desire to teach the sport.
“This area has a pretty deep soccer tradition so I got hooked onto it pretty early,” said Inverso. “I started coaching a CYO team my junior year.”
While learning the X’s and O’s, Inverso ruled the net as a lockdown goalkeeper for the Irish and eventually turned into a college star at Trenton State College, now known as The College of New Jersey. With the Lions, Inverso received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education, solidifying his true calling: coaching.
The Hall of Famer was awarded National Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year four times, and more than 40 of his players have become college or high school coaches, while 16 have competed in the professional ranks.
Prior to landing the Rider job, Inverso served as an assistant coach at Rutgers last season, but he’s now prepared to resurrect the Broncs as its head man.
“Our goal is to try to keep possession of the ball,” said Inverso. “More than anything, I want to make these guys aware of attention to detail. The little, subtle things we can improve on.”
Inverso understands that a once-winning program has slipped into the basement, and its resurgence will take time. In its last three season’s, Rider has finished 10-41-3 overall.
“I’m not one to run out of the box,” he said. “I’m not like a Rex Ryan and say we’re going to the Final Four next year, but I think we can be very competitive in our first year. I’d be wasting everyone’s time if our goal down the road wasn’t to win the conference.”
Inverso has the right mindset, and his sights are set high for the future of Rider men’s soccer.
“I told the guys that I do expect to win here and I expect them to think the same way,” he said. “I look upon it as a challenge to try to move the program forward. I think we can go a long way.”