By Mike Kenna
Head coach Kelly Findley put Butler men’s soccer on the map.
Findley has taken the once-struggling men’s soccer program and transformed it into a national title contender.
Since being hired in December 2005, Findley has led the Bulldogs to four winning seasons.
This year, Findley led the team to its first undefeated season, which he attributes to the tight family environment that the team has developed.
Findley said he has been involved with soccer his entire life.
Born just outside Houston in League City, Texas, Findley played for the Claire Creek High School varsity team. At the same time, he played with the Houston Nationals club team before leaving to play for Judson University in Elgin, Ill.
Findley was a three-time NAIA All-American, a three-time NCCAA All-American and a two-time NSCAA All-American as a midfielder for Judson. He finished his collegiate career by helping Judson to its first-ever NCCAA national tournament championship in 1991.
“Every moment was great,” Findley said. “Playing with my friends and enjoying myself were the greatest parts of being an athlete.
“Being an All-American was a great achievement, but I was happy just to be around the people I loved.”
After graduating, Findley signed a professional contract with the Charlotte Eagles, with whom he won two division championships and posted a national runner-up finish.
Playing professionally was something Findley had wanted to do since he was a child.
“That was a huge moment for me,” Findley said. “Since I was 6 or 7 years old, I had always wanted to play professionally and the Eagles gave me that opportunity.”
Findley’s enthusiasm and appreciation for soccer kept him with the sport after playing professionally for six years.
The Eagles hired him as an assistant and three seasons later, he was promoted to associate head coach.
Butler hired him as a head coach two years later.
“The opportunity to become a head coach and build a program at Butler was too good to pass up,” Findley said. “I had a great experience at Charlotte and I was ready to move on to a new challenge.”
Since Findley’s arrival, Butler soccer has made a great amount of progress.
Findley currently has the highest winning percentage of any Butler men’s soccer coach in team history, although he gives all credit to his players, who he takes a lot of interest in during practice.
Findley is commonly seen taking players aside to critique and encourage their play. His respectful coaching style eases players into a comfortable mood so they can express themselves on the pitch.
“The players have gained a lot of confidence,” Findley said. “They’ve been growing and gaining experience by taking things one practice and game at a time and not getting ahead of themselves.”
Butler assistant coach and recruiting coordinator David Costa said Butler’s recent success has much to do with Findley’s passion for the game.
“To him, it’s more than just soccer or winning,” Costa said. “He tries to get the best out of everyone, not just the players but the staff, as well.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Jon Dawson said Findley’s effort to improve the people around him makes it clear that this is more than just a game to him.
“He explains things to the players so they understand exactly what they need to do,” Dawson said. “His dedication to every aspect of practice pushes his players to want to play for him.”
Senior Dustin Mares described Findley’s coaching style as family-oriented.
“This season’s success was bound to happen because of what he does for us,” Mares said. “He puts his players in a position to thrive and succeed, and he’s guided us all in a positive direction.”
Findley and his squad have begun working toward next fall already and Findley says that he plans to be here and keep winning.
“[Butler] is a place where the players enjoy playing with each other and want to succeed with one another,” Costa said. “Coach Findley has built this mentality, and we have a lot to thank him for now.”