Steve Spirk has established himself as one of the top coaches in collegiate soccer. Under his tutelage, the women's soccer program has played in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament in seven of the last nine seasons.
Winning is the standard, not the exception, in Spirk’s life in soccer — both as a player and coach. As a prep star at Northmont High School in Dayton, he was a three-time All-Ohio selection.
He continued his playing career at Wilmington College, where he was a four-time NAIA All-American. From 1977 to 1980, Spirk racked up numbers that have stood the test of time. His name is still atop virtually every WC statistical category, including career goals (74), career assists (43), career points (191), single-season points (57 and 54) and season goals (22 twice).
No player had a bigger role in the genesis of Wilmington College soccer than Spirk. His Wilmington squads of the late ’70s compiled a 53-15-3 (.768) record as the WC men’s team grew to national prominence.
In 1996, Spirk’s accomplishments were acknowledged by his induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame. By that time, Spirk also was making a name for himself in the coaching ranks.
Spirk took over a Wilmington team in 1992 that had suffered through back-to-back losing seasons. In 1993, Wilmington finished 17-3-0 and the 1994 team went 19-3-0 and made the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA National Tournament.
And the winning has continued. In more that 20
seasons on the Wilmington sideline, Spirk has put together a 248-116-30 record, qualified for six NCAA tournaments and advanced to the Sweet 16 three times. Getting back to the NCAA remains atop the Quakers’ set of goals.
“I love this game. I knew early I was going to remain involved with soccer,” Spirk said. “Being part of the game is important to me, and I have learned over time that every year is a fresh start. You don’t dwell on past years — you build on them.”
A 1992 Wilmington College Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Spirk has earned the respect of his coaching peers, both regionally and across the nation. He was the Association of Mideast Colleges Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and the OAC Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003. He was named the Mideast Region Coach of the Year and finalist for National Coach of the Year in 1994 and 1996.
Spirk’s teams are as good in the classroom as they are on the field. His teams have earned the Women’s Collegiate Team Academic Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America 16 of the past 18 years. The Lady Quakers are epitome of student-athletes.
“When we recruit good athletes, we’re looking for the top students who also excel on the soccer field,” Spirk said. “It’s very rare that we get a player who doesn’t have the same kind of success academically as they do on the soccer pitch. It’s really something that we expect to achieve every year.”
Spirk also is WC’s director of athletic development. He lives in Wilmington, and has three sons, Jacob, Ben and Sam.