By David Pavlak
In sports, a team is nothing without the right coach. From the pregame preparations, on-field execution, postgame analysis and the week’s general duties, head coach is a position that comes with glory and scrutiny. One wrong move can spell disaster and leave the coach with a label he or she may not be able to shake.
We have many phenomenal coaches with great accomplishments at Rider, and I want to take this time to give my top five coaches currently involved in our athletic department.
Lori Hussong – Field Hockey:
The proof is in the pudding when it comes to Hussong. In her 11 years coaching at Rider, she has accumulated an overall record of 169-71 and a winning percentage of .704. Throughout her tenure, Hussong has been named the NEC Coach of the Year four times, won five NEC championships and has made it to the NCAA Play-In game in the past two seasons. Hussong and the Broncs can continually be found at the top of the standings in the NEC. The work ethic of the Broncs on the field is unmatched by nearly every opponent they face, and that starts with Hussong driving her athletes to perform to the best of their abilities. It is clear that everyone on the team has bought into the system and that everyone is on the same page. The mission is clear: to be the best and to win. That is exactly what has happened.
Gary Taylor – Wrestling:
Dedication to your craft as a head coach is what makes your athletes better, faster and stronger. For the past 34 years, Taylor has been the head coach of a wrestling program that continues to turn out positive results and top contenders. Though they may not win the CAA every season, the Broncs have individual talent that tops their weight class and many qualify for the NCAA and the national spotlight. Taylor has brought in top talent that continually receives both preseason and postseason national rankings due to the training and dedication he brings to the program. Taylor has amassed a record of 380-219 in his 33 years of coaching.
Tommy Dempsey – Men’s Basketball:
It’s no surprise that men’s basketball garners the greatest amount of attention. Each season, Dempsey and the Broncs are regular competitors in the MAAC conference and continually search to make their stamp in the MAAC tournament, even though they have come up unsuccessful after many tries. That doesn’t take away from the prowess of Dempsey and his ability to continually add new pieces to the basketball team while still seeing success on the court. John Rothstein of MSG.com listed Dempsey as one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball due to his ability to continually lead his team into the MAAC tourney as a contender and to always be able to replenish his talent. Dempsey has also won 82 games in the past four years, excluding this past year. That mark is the most by any Rider basketball coach. The previous mark was held by Kevin Bannon who had 77 wins. Dempsey may be the coach under the biggest microscope due to the attention that the basketball program brings, but as of now, Dempsey continues to step up to the challenge.
Charlie Inverso – Men’s Soccer:
When the news broke that Charlie Inverso would be taking over as the men’s soccer head coach, expectations immediately rose. Inverso has one of the most impressive résumés in men’s soccer and the Broncs were happy to scoop him up. Inverso logged a record of 434-46-14 as the coach at Mercer County Community College. He also won five national championships throughout that period. After a big opening day win against Seton Hall, the Broncs struggled to find consistency on the field, with the season ending with a disappointing record of 4-13-2. Inverso has the knowledge and coaching ability to be able to turn the men’s soccer program around and with the addition of seven new recruits for next season; it is a step in the right direction.
Barry Davis – Baseball:
Davis has been a member of some coaching staff for the past 22 years. Davis has been with Rider for the past seven years, but has already helped continue to make the program grow in strides, culminating with a MAAC championship in 2010. The Broncs have been selected this year to finish second in the MAAC with two players being named to the preseason MAAC roster. With Davis at the helm of the program, the baseball team will continue to turn out players who can move beyond the collegiate game. Both Mike Thomas and Nate Eppley, players under Davis last season, were drafted to the MLB last summer. Davis’ dedication has changed the philosophy of the baseball program for the better.