BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Wesleyan College Men’s Soccer program has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings as an on-campus club sport in 1959. By 1962, on the back of hard work undertaken by Dr. Maurice Soremekun and a collection of driven, talented soccer players, the club sport earned official sponsorship by the college, making it the varsity sport that is played today.
The inaugural WVWC Men’s Soccer team was guided by Head Coach John Meyers. The Bobcats picked a dandy as their first official head coach, as Myers would quickly shape his team into a competitive unit, eventually leading the Bobcats to back-to-back WVIAC tournament championships in 1965 and 1966.
In the decades to follow, the Bobcats transition from a start-up program into a state and regional power was furthered by visionary figures like Dr. George Klebez, Dr. Tom Martin and Derrick Leeson, who each pushed the program’s evolution in their own way. However, it would be legendary Head Coach Gavin Donaldson, who would oversee the program during an era in which the Bobcats would come to be recognized as a national force at both the NAIA and NCAA Division-II level. Over the span of 36 seasons as a head coach, Donaldson accumulated 402 career wins, including 260 victories in his 31-year career at WVWC. In 1994 the Bobcats last season playing on the NAIA level, Donaldson led the Bobcats to their fifth NAIA national tile en route to sweeping NAIA and NSCAA National Coach of the Year honors.
The following year in 1995, the Bobcats transitioned to the NCAA Division-II level and success immediately followed as the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 1996,1997 and 1999. Under Donaldson, the Bobcats enjoyed a sustained run of success, with a list of highlights that include making it to the Elite Eight in 2010, winning the MEC Championship and making the NCAA tournament in 2017 and finally Division-II National Staff of the Year by United Soccer Coaches for the 2020 season (played in the spring of 2021). Following his retirement at the end of the 2021 season, Donaldson was named as an inductee to the West Virginia Wesleyan College Athletic Hall of Fame, but recently passed in March of 2022 before he was able to attend a ceremony centered around honoring his contributions to the college.
Regardless of who steps into Coach Donaldson’s position as the head coach for the Bobcats in 2022, they will have impossibly large shoes to fill. Replacing a legend is not achievable, but a new coach building their own legacy is always possible. Whoever is named as head coach will take over a program that Donaldson left in tremendously good shape. From humble beginnings, the program has constructed a storied history, built on the standard of competitive consistency; a standard that had its foundations laid by those early Bobcat teams.