Coach Rich Ryerson's Top 5 Sports Moments 2

UNLV’s Men’s Soccer Head Coach 
Rich talks about moments that stand out from his 7 years as coach

Coach Rich Ryerson has been the head coach of the UNLV’s men’s soccer team since 2010 but has a long history with UNLV before his time as head coach. Playing for UNLV’s men’s soccer team in 1983, ’84 and ’85, and working as the assistant coach from 2008-09, Coach Rich’s enthusiasm for the program runs deep. Passionate about building friendships with players and impacting the local soccer scene, Coach Rich sat down with us to discuss his five top memories with UNLV’s men’s soccer both off and on the field.

Rebuilding UNLV Men’s Soccer Program

“In 2010 program we were under some real financial strains, and they were actually going to cut the UNLV’s men’s soccer program. What we did to try to raise money was a fireworks booth. They needed $2 million, and we raised around $250, so it was a bit comical. That was one moment that will always stick with me because here we were, a Division I soccer program on the line, trying to create a revenue stream to support our program. The Engelstad Foundation came in and gave us a lifeline, and they’ve provided about $850,000 over a four-year period and still give quite a bit. The Hannah family also came in and donated $1 million, so we had some great philanthropic local help to keep our program alive.”

Creating the UNLV Rebel Soccer Foundation

“We’re in a great position now and have a new foundation. In June 2016, we were able to create what is now called the UNLV Rebel Soccer Foundation, and it’s been the most important thing for UNLV’s men’s soccer program. It’s driven by UNLV soccer alumni and local businessmen. They have some really exciting things planned with tailgating and fundraising. It’s a very driven group of men that will really enable the UNLV men’s and women’s soccer programs to benefit from what they want to do for us.”

First Game as Head Coach

“In 2010, my first head coaching game was against Stanford, and we won the game, 2-1. That was an extreme highlight as a coach. It was my first game, and I thought ‘Boy, this is easy!’ Stanford had won the national championship the last two years in a row and was a top team in the country. We were ranked 200 out of 203, and they were in the top 10 at the time. That was a David-Goliath day for sure.”

The Successful Season of 2014

“The complete season of 2014 is a big highlight for me. That’s when we had an amazingly successful year, not only in nonconference games but conference as well. We won our conference regular season and the conference championship which was in Seattle. That hadn’t been done in over 30 years. The city of Las Vegas recognized us with the proclamation of UNLV soccer day, and it was a very cool experience. The satisfaction of watching the guys celebrate after that championship was pretty awesome too. We also went to the NCAA tournament that year. It was a pretty powerful season.”

NCAA Tournament 2016

“Last year (2016) we also won our conference championship and the biggest moment was winning the first round of the NCAA tournament against San Diego State in penalty kicks. It was a very exciting and big moment for me. We hadn’t gotten through the first round of the tournament before with the group we had, and it was a pretty defining moment for us.”