Obituary: Remembering Charlie Slagle (1952-2019)

Charlie Slagle  switched from football to soccer at age 21, then dedicated the rest of his life to the sport.

He attended Davidson College in North Carolina in the mid-1970s on a partial football scholarship, but after his sophomore season, he and the Wildcats football coach disagreed about Slagle's role on field. He started kicking around with the soccer team and enjoyed it so much he said goodbye to the oval ball.

The late introduction to soccer limited Slagle's chances in the field, but he had "good hands" and became the Wildcats' goalkeeper during his final two years of college, earning All-Southern Conference honors. "I fell in love with the game," he said.

Five years after graduating, Slagle became Davidson's head coach, a position he would hold for 21 seasons (1980-2000), compiling 209 wins and seven Conference Coach of the Year Awards. It was in 1992 when Slagle and Davidson College entered the college soccer national limelight.

Slagle, believing that the men's NCAA Division I soccer championship was falling short of its potential, spearheaded Davidson's bid to host the final four. In 1991, the men's final in Tampa Bay drew a crowd of 3,889.

Davidson College at the time had a student body of 1,500. The city of Davidson, 30 miles north of Charlotte, had a population of slightly more than 4,000 in 1990. Its men's soccer team had never even reached the NCAA tournament. But Slagle convinced the NCAA that Davidson could take the event to a higher level.

When the final four took place at Richardson Stadium, defending champion Virginia, Duke, the University of San Diego -- and the Slagle-coached Davidson Wildcats made it to the semifinals. Both game days were sellouts of 8,150. The Claudio Reyna-led Virginia Cavaliers won the title, and repeated twice more at Davidson College, which added seats to enable final crowds of 10,549 and 12,033 in 1993 and 1994, respectively. (Last year's College Cup final hosted by UC Santa Barbara drew 4,858.)

“Charlie was one of the true renaissance men of our game," said United Soccer Coaches CEO Lynn Berling-Manuel. "Coach, executive, teacher, author, broadcaster, entrepreneur, but what he liked to call himself first and foremost was ‘Promoter,' He lived to Promote soccer with a capital P! The College Cups he hosted at Davidson College are still remembered as the most exciting events in virtually all of college soccer history, nothing ever surpassed them for true college soccer atmosphere."

Slagle was named College Coach of the Year in 1992, when the Wildcats' Rob Ukrop led the nation with 31 goals and 10 assists. After leaving his position at Davidson, Slagle served as the CEO of the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) in Raleigh, North Carolina for more than 12 years. His role with CASL included organizing 11 more College Cups, and hosting training camps for the U.S. men’s national team before the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. He also served as executive director of Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer and Tampa Bay United Soccer Club’s CEO.

Last January, he became Vice President of Community Engagement and Gameday Experience for the Richmond Kickers, where he reunited with Ukrop.

“We are saddened by coach Slagle’s sudden passing,” said Ukrop, Richmond Kickers Pro Chairman. “He was a terrific man who loved his children, Barry and Amelia, his granddaughter Clara, and the soccer community at large. He made an immediate impact on the RVA community by sharing his time and talent running coaching clinics and camps. Most importantly, he was an incredible friend to our staff and a joyful and authentic leader. We will miss Coach and strive to continue his powerful legacy of serving others.”

Slagle served as the President of United Soccer Coaches (previously known as the NSCAA) in 2017, was on its Board of Directors for six years, and had a stint Vice President of Education. Slagle also contributed articles to Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider. Last year he published the book, "Soccer Smarts: 75 Skills, Tactics & Mental Exercises to Improve Your Game."

“Charlie was a force of nature,” said Kickers president and general manager Matt Spear, who captained Davidson's 1992 team. “What was so powerful about Charlie is that he never met a stranger — he loved people and his energy was infectious."

Slagle died on Tuesday in Richmond at the age of 67.

8 comments about "Obituary: Remembering Charlie Slagle (1952-2019)".
  1. david rubinson, July 3, 2019 at 7:57 p.m.

    So sad. Charlie was and is one of the good guys in our sport!!  From the time we went to coaching school together he has always given his all for the game. He will truly be missed. 

  2. Richard Broad replied, July 3, 2019 at 8:20 p.m.

    Shock is the only adjective to describe my reaction to the news of Charlie Slagle's passing. He made a positive difference for the sport of soccer. His efforts to bring the College Cup to Davidson and make the event special revitalized the college game at a time when it was losing relevance. His description of himself as a "Promoter" was an accurate one. He did a LOT of good for a LOT of people. He will indeed be missed.

  3. Dan Woog, July 3, 2019 at 9:51 p.m.

    Shocking news. Charlie was one of the liveliest guys I've ever known. He was positive, fun, funny, and truly loved the game. He was a good friend, and an even better guy. The soccer worldl has lost a great one.

  4. Kevin Sims, July 3, 2019 at 10:35 p.m.

    Big ideas. Big promotions. Big smile. Big laugh. Big heart. Big human. Huge loss. Rest In Peace.

  5. Pat Millen, July 3, 2019 at 10:59 p.m.

    So, October 1991. Charlie Slagle walks into my office at the Baker Sports Complex and says, "Millen, I've got an idea. I think we (Davidson) ought to put in a bid to host the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship." I say, "Slagle, I'm not sure the NCAA gives its Championships to tiny little colleges like ours. Don't you think they give them to schools like UCLA or Indiana?" Charlie says, "No, I'm serious, I really think they'd give it to us because we can convince them that it would be the most important event Davidson would have ever had and that we'd work our butts off to make it great." 3 months later, Charlie, Terry Holland and I fly off to KC and make our presentation to the NCAA. 2 days later the NCAA informs us that we will host the next 3 NCAA Soccer Championships. One year later I founded Integrity Sports Marketing and began my first career working with the likes of the NCAA, CONCACAF and FIFA. All because Charlie had an idea he was really excited about. Friends, I'll bet there are hundreds of people who can claim Charlie's excitement and one of his big ideas vaulted them forward to something great in their lives. We should all try to inspire others as Charlie so naturally did...

  6. Hugh T replied, July 5, 2019 at 6:16 p.m.

    Pat Millen- Great story, thanks

  7. John Daly, July 4, 2019 at 3:10 a.m.

    Charlie was a visionary. He saw the potential for his small North Carolina college to stand at the pinnacle of NCAA Soccer, briefly though it may have been. He was humble, articulate, and honest. The part he played in helping move the game forward cannot be underestimated, nor forgotten. He always greeted people with a big smile and a firm handshake. Whenever I attended the CASL tournament I looked forward to just a few minutes of “Slagle time.” He never disappointed me. A big man with a big heart, he will be sadly missed by all. 

  8. Steve Goldberg, July 31, 2019 at 12:20 a.m.

    I'd known Charlie Slagle since he was the goalkeeper for Davidson College and the few of us that were Charlotte Jr. Soccer in the early 70's would scrimmage against them from time to time. A boisterous and formidable presence, he cast a giant shadow then and more so later as coach of the Wildcats.

    One of my lasting memories will always be from a Davidson home game at Richardson Stadium in the late 90's. It was halftime and Charlie was in the locker room there, telling his team what he thought of their performance to that point. Loudly. And direct to the point

    It was unfiltered and blunt in a way that would, as they say, make a sailor blush.

    I wasn't in the there but in the adjacent men's room along with some fathers and their kids during the halftime rush. Suddenly these dads had to explain a whole new lexicon of words to their young.

    I informed Charlie of the thin walls but, to be honest, no amount of brick or mortar would have made a difference. I think they heard him in neighboring states that day.

    He will be missed.

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