Charlie Slagle, whose impact on the game of soccer stretched far beyond his days as a player and coach at Davidson, died Tuesday in Richmond, Va. He was 67.
The Richmond Kickers, the United Soccer League team for which Slagle had worked since January, announced Slagle’s death on their website. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Slagle is best known in the Mecklenburg County soccer community for the magical season he guided his Davidson team through in 1992, when the surprising Wildcats advanced all the way to the NCAA tournament’s College Cup.
The College Cup — soccer’s Final Four — had already been scheduled to be played at Davidson’s Richardson Stadium, an idea hatched and brought to fruition mostly by Slagle, who would be named the NCAA’s national coach of the year that season. Davidson lost in the national semifinals that year in overtime to San Diego.
“Charlie was a force of nature,” Kickers president and general manager Matt Spear, captain of the ‘92 team and also a former Wildcats coach, said in a statement. “What was so powerful about Charlie is that he never met a stranger — he loved people and his energy was infectious.
“He made a massive community impact the past six months here in Richmond. Charlie deeply believed and activated that soccer was an inspiration and unifier. Charlie was a pivotal reason that I chose to attend Davidson, that I served our alma mater, and that I focus on servant leadership.”
Slagle, a former all-Southern Conference goalkeeper for the Wildcats, left Davidson in 2001 after 21 seasons as coach to become chief executive officer of the Triangle’s Capital Area Soccer League. Before arriving in Richmond earlier this year, he had also worked as executive director of Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer in Denver and Tampa Bay United Soccer Club’s CEO.
“We are saddened by coach Slagle’s sudden passing,” Rob Ukrop, who also played for Slagle at Davidson and is the Kickers’ chairman., said in a statement. “He was a terrific man who loved his children, Barry and Amelia, his grandaughter Clara, and the soccer community at large. 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 was inducted into the N.C. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005. He was named the Southern Conference coach of the year seven times.
At Davidson and CASL, he directed 14 College Cups and hosted training camps for the U.S. men’s national team before the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.