Rick Wolf, Head Boys Soccer Coach at Regis Jesuit, isn’t always keeping score, but he does keep track of time: it’s his eighteenth year of coaching, his ninth as head coach; and it’s been four years since “the program has taken the next step in the formation of the players on and off the field.” Wolf believes that having a higher purpose matters more than the team’s win-loss record or his players’ individual statistics. He said, “Winning is a byproduct of creating an environment in which young men can thrive.”
Boys Varsity Soccer has won the League Championship the last four years in a row. They ranked number one in the state last year, and they only gave up a single goal in their entire season—in the final seconds of regulation play during the first round of the playoffs.
Wolf prepares his players for what he believes is most important in life, regardless of their sport. “I tell them that soccer will end at some point. They might get cut early, or they might have a 12-year professional run like Roger Espinoza ’05. So, the question is, what are they taking from the game that will make them a better person. What matters most is their relationship with each other and with God.”
Espinoza plays Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City. He has also represented his homeland of Honduras at two World Cups and the 2012 Summer Olympics and now helps raise money and awareness to improve the lives of Hondurans. Espinoza and Wolf still keep in touch, as is the case with many alumni players who found a strong sense of family on the team.
The recent success of Boys Soccer, according to Wolf, is due in large part to the dedication of his two assistant coaches, Derek Scarth and Tommy Gilhooley. “They genuinely love the kids, and they love the mission—which is a beautiful mission. Their presence has further empowered me to embrace it and love it and put it on display for everyone to see.”
Scarth and Gilhooley both were star players at Regis University and have what Wolf calls an “equal stake” in the success of the team. “We complement each other,” Wolf said. “Derek does strategy and tactics. Tommy encourages the kids to observe the other players. Each of us has a group of lads we connect with so if someone is struggling, we know who should talk to them.”
Leadership is an important value for the players and coaches. Many of the players serve as retreat leaders and frequently take on other formal and informal leadership roles throughout the school. The team maintains a 3.6 grade point average and nearly all made the Academic All-State team. Wolf says they are “easy accepts to any institution, whether or not they play.”
Transforming athletics into a conduit for mission and leadership—known as Bold Move Four—is an important part of Inspire & Ignite 2025, Regis Jesuit’s Strategic Vision for Access, Innovation and Excellence. According to Wolf, having side-by-side playing fields is the one improvement that will help the most. In fact, that project is on the horizon for use by nearly 750 students, or 40 percent of Regis Jesuit’s student-athletes, who play field sports. This includes Boys Soccer and Girls Soccer, as well as Lacrosse and Rugby for both boys and girls, Field Hockey and Football, where leadership and mentorship also matter.
“The role of the older players is to set an example for the younger ones,” said Wolf, who oversees the Freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity Boys teams encompassing more than 80 players from freshman through their senior years. “We’ve done a lot to elevate the leadership of our older boys, but there’s a huge disconnect because our teams are physically separated and have to play at separate times. Our goal is to use the sport of soccer as an opportunity to form our boys as players, teammates, men and, most importantly, to grow in our relationship with God. Our older boys, who have a solid faith life, demand that respect from their younger teammates. I’d love to see them spend more time together.”