Coach takes pride in promoting soccer
When Jim Perry looks back at his coaching career in soccer, the contribution he is most proud of is not the WPIAL or state title he won at Fox Chapel.
Those were great moments, to be sure.
But Perry, 65, of Cheswick, draws the most satisfaction from knowing he helped his sport grow at the youth levels and develop into one of the most popular high school sports in the WPIAL.
Perry was a leader in establishing the Fox Chapel youth soccer program in the early 1970s and has worked with players from all over Western Pennsylvania as an Olympic Development Program coach for about 20 years.
When it comes to developing skills outside of high school, the ODP can be considered the equivalent of the AAU in basketball, according to Perry. He spent this past weekend in Erie coaching an ODP boys team.
“If you think of contributions, I would have to say helping develop youth soccer as we know it today was the best thing I’ve done,” Perry said.
According to Perry, when he started coaching in the 1960s, there were fewer than 10 schools in the WPIAL that fielded soccer teams. Today, there are 105 boys teams and 95 girls teams.
Perry’s immediate impact with the Fox Chapel boys team is remarkable.
Perry served as head coach from 1972-90 and compiled a record of 257-85-24. Fox Chapel won the WPIAL Class AAA title in 1987 and the PIAA Class AAA title in 1990.
As personal sports moments go, they don’t get much better in soccer than what happened to Perry in 1990. His son, Mark, coached Hampton to the PIAA Class AA title. Later that day, Jim guided Fox Chapel to the state Class AAA crown with a 1-0 win over Downingtown.
“That was a very special day,” Jim Perry said.
Perry also founded the Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches all-star game in 1987 as a way to help promote local talent to college recruiters.
Perry is well respected by his peers.
He was named WPIAL Soccer Coach of the Year in 1987 and ’90. He also was the PA West State Youth Coach of the Year in 1988 for his work with the Beadling Soccer Club.
And he is a member of three other halls of fame — Pennsylvania Sports Western Chapter, Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association, and Fox Chapel.
“To be recognized by your peers, that’s the highest you can get,” Perry said.