The always-receptive Randy Hanson took a hard look at the University of Puget Sound women’s soccer job back in 1995, strictly at a friend’s request.
And 20 seasons later, he put together the best run in Northwest Conference coaching history.
Just months after retiring in January, Hanson is one of five Loggers who will be inducted into the university’s hall of fame this weekend as part of homecoming festivities.
Surprised that his hall-of-fame selection arrived so quickly, the 51-year-old admitted he barely knew what the qualifications were — even if his are no-brainer-worthy.
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“But I am honored,” he said.
Hanson had just returned to the area in 1995. He was working at an FC United camp at Pacific Lutheran University, where he bumped into UPS men’s soccer coach Reece Olney.
Olney mentioned that the university was having a difficult time finding a replacement for Colin Stewart as women’s coach. It was getting near the start of the season, and the Loggers needed a coach for at least the short term.
“Reece asked if I would consider taking over the program for a year,” Hanson said.
It was a rough 1995 season — the Loggers went 4-12-1.
“It felt like being thrown into the deep end,” Hanson said. “We had 10 one-goal losses.”
Hanson stayed on, and came up with a model on how to build the best program in the NWC.
“In our time of rising, we did everything like we were playing (conference powerhouse) Willamette, and hoped it was good enough for the rest of the league as well,” Hanson said.
Four years later, the Loggers went to the NCAA Division III tournament. They upended Willamette, then ranked No. 3, in overtime. That was when the baton of NWC supremacy was officially passed to UPS.
And the Loggers kept winning.
After that first losing season, UPS had 19 consecutive winning seasons, capturing 15 conference titles, including 14 in a row by the time Hanson stepped down.
“We won it every way you could — with high-scoring teams, with defensive-oriented teams, ones with All-Americans on it, and ones who had players who did not have any accolades,” Hanson said. “We figured it out every which way.”
He won 303 matches, with 17 national-tournament victories. The Loggers lost in the 2004 NCAA title match to Wheaton College of Illinois.
“It just all sort of moved along,” Hanson said. “Like I tell others, I put my head down 20 times (for 20 seasons), and then I raised it up at the end to see how we did.”
Asked how he’d like his legacy to be remembered, Hanson said: “You try and develop people first … and focus on character-building and that it can still bring success.”
Hanson is an assistant coach for the Under-20 U.S. National team that is set to play in the World Cup in New Guinea next month.
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