Former Erskine soccer coach Ralph Lundy, recently honored for his work in athletics, has his own thoughts about what constitutes work.
“I have never ‘worked’ a day in my life because it was what I loved doing,” says Lundy. “Work is love made visible.”
Lundy retired in 2019 after 46 years coaching college soccer, eleven of those years at Erskine. During his career, Lundy claimed 453 wins, built the College of Charleston’s division one team, and spearheaded the construction of sports facilities at both Erskine College and the College of Charleston.
Under Lundy’s leadership, the men’s soccer team at Erskine won seven league championships and went to NCAA nationals three times. Shortly before his retirement, Lundy was ranked fourth among the top ten winningest active coaches. Most importantly, Lundy has left an indelible mark on generations of players.
“He is the most amazing person and coach,” says Mary Weems Sturken ’89, who played on the first women’s soccer team at Erskine. “He has been a mentor, brother, and friend for so many years. He brings out the best in his players. He demands that you give him your best all while showing you that you can do more than you think possible.”
In September, the College of Charleston honored Lundy by renaming their Patriot Point field “Ralph Lundy Field.”
“Naming the field in my honor was a tremendous experience,” Lundy says. He was especially encouraged to see many of his former players from both Erskine and the College of Charleston in attendance at the renaming ceremony. “[That] meant the world to me.”
Lundy credits his own coaches for their enduring influence on him. He names high school baseball coach Bill Jarrett, Brevard College coach Larry Burch, and Western Carolina coach Charles Schrader as three key role models for his life and career.
“What I have achieved is to do for my players what my coaches did for me,” he says. “They took the time to help me grow and develop, and believed in me so that I could realize the great opportunities given to a college student athlete. I have been blessed with the opportunity to give back and to help young people grow.”
Though Lundy has retired from coaching college soccer, he has not retired from the sport. In fact, Lundy recently accepted a job as Instructional Director at a local club for youth players. He also serves as an instructor at soccer camps.
For Lundy’s former players, his influence continues. Ralph Polson ’80 and Billy Lesesne ’87 both played soccer at Erskine and followed in Lundy’s footsteps, becoming soccer coaches. Polson served as an assistant coach at Erskine and retired from coaching at Wofford College. Lesesne currently coaches soccer at the University of Georgia.
“He has clearly been the most influential person in my playing and coaching career,” says Polson. “His influence on our sport and those he’s mentored will be seen and enjoyed for years to come.”
Polson also praises Lundy’s humility and graciousness toward those he coached. “His delight in and his acknowledgment of their successes, and his ability to make them the heroes, has always impressed me.”
“Playing under coach Lundy was a wonderful experience,” Lesesne says. “His passion for the sport and his commitment to recruit and coach players was important, but perhaps most impressive was his guidance and leadership in developing people. …The impact he has had on my life and career is extraordinary. …He is living a legacy of leadership.”
As for Lundy himself, he enjoys keeping in touch with his former players. “Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from one of my players,” he says. “God has blessed me!”
Though Lundy has enjoyed awards and honors, championships and building projects, the one thing that matters most to him is the people: players, coaches, and especially his family. Lundy is grateful for his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Harper, Ralphie, and Lettie. “[They] mean everything to me.”
Shown in photo above, the Lundy family, from left: Elizabeth Lundy ’84, Ralph Lundy, Harper Lundy, Ralph Lundy Jr., and Lettie Lundy.