Findley comes to NC State following his fourth straight winning season at Butler. More specifically, his 2010 Butler squad entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 5 nationally and was one of only two unbeaten teams in the nation. He led Butler to the national stage with top 25 rankings, league championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. His overall record as head coach at Butler was an impressive 59-25-15, and the club's 16 wins this season ranked among the best in team history.
After Butler repeated as league champions in 2010, Findley was named Horizon League coach of the year for the second straight season. He also mentored the league player of the year and Herman Trophy semifinalist Ben Sippola.
Talk about your roots in North Carolina. You spent some time coaching soccer in the state, and obviously you feel comfortable with coming back.
I do. For me, North Carolina is probably the best state to live in. The weather is great, the location, the people... I'm definitely excited to come back to a place that I feel like is home.
You had a lot of success as head coach at Butler. What state was the program in when you took over, and how do you feel you are leaving it a few years later?
Butler is a good school, and it had a pretty good tradition of soccer. The coaches before me were great guys and did a good job, but they were under .500 and there were no players left when we got there. It basically left an open door... a clean slate to start with.
We came in with a great opportunity to rebuild it how we wanted to rebuild it. The administration was great. In five years we did a good job of bring in great talent and good kids. We maintained a very good GPA. We had a 3.3 cumulative GPA, and we won the NSCAA team academic award for three straight years. We were able to win our league the last two years and get to the NCAA Tournament with a first-round bye, which is something no team at Butler had ever accomplished.
What first attracted you to the NC State vacancy?
For me I wanted to go to a school that really supports soccer and also compete at a high level. I believe the ACC is the best soccer conference in the country.
The location, the quality of NC State as an academic institution, the athletic department, and the ability compete at the highest level is what attracted me to NC State.
Also, I'd like to add that I think you can win there. My goal is to win a national championship, and I think that at a place like NC State you can do that. That excited me.
Is the national consensus that the ACC is the premier college conference in soccer?
I would think so. It's definitely No. 1 or No. 2. This year the Big Ten was probably No. 1 as far as the RPI and those kind of things, but the ACC was a close second. They are always in the running for No. 1 or No. 2.
How do you feel NC State's administration handled the interview process? Also, what is your relationship like with Debbie Yow and Chris Kingston?
Obviously, I think they did a great job because they hired me [laughing]. Seriously though, they were first class all the way.
One of the things I asked them during the interview process was... why should I leave a place (Butler) that I know I'm going to be successful and I'm set up to do well? Why would I take the risk of going into a program like NC State where it is now and where it has to go in the ACC? What drove me to it was the other things I mentioned prior, but it was really Debbie Yow and Chris Kingston who sold me on NC State being a place that you can win.
NC State is a place where there is support. They are energetic, driven, and hungry. They want to be successful, and they are going to give you every tool necessary to make that happen. That's what sold me on the opportunity. Obviously it's a great position, but for me it was their perspective on excellence and their drive to win. That really drew me to the position.
It's interesting because in all sports it often comes down to finding the right fit when choosing a new coaching opportunity. Mid-major coaches who have success generally have options on a higher level, but if it's not a place where you can win then I'm sure some are hesitant to accept the challenge, even if on paper it appears to be a better job.
You're exactly right. That's something I wanted to make sure of. I didn't want to go to NC State and not have the resources or support to win because the ACC is not very forgiving.
I felt like going to NC State there was no doubt that Debbie Yow and Chris Kingston are going to get it done. I'm excited about the opportunity.
What will fans associate with your program? What will they see when they come and watch Wolfpack soccer?
I want them to see a team that doesn't have egos. It's a team that does the work, is disciplined, and that buys into a system that will give players the freedom to be expressive because soccer is a player's game.
NOTE: Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of our interview with Kelly Findley when he will discuss recruiting and the current roster at NC State.