Stu Riddle will enter his fourth season at the helm of the Western Michigan men’s soccer program in 2012 after being introduced as the sixth head coach in school history on Jan. 30, 2009.
Riddle has restored WMU as one of the finest in the Mid-American Conference and Great Lakes Region during his short tenure, making back-to-back appearance in the MAC Championship game in 2010 and 2011.
In three seasons, Riddle has had seven all-conference selections, eight all-tournament team selections, six Academic All-MAC honorees and produced an individual NCAA statistical champion in goals per game.
Western Michigan made its second consecutive trip to the Mid-American Championship in 2011, stunning then defending national champion Akron in the MAC tournament semifinals, beating the Zips in 4-3 in penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie. The Broncos fell to Northern Illinois in the championship, 1-0, to finish the season.
WMU's other signature win in 2011 came against Michigan, a 2-1 victory on Oct. 5, defeating the Wolverines for just the second time in program history and the first time ever in Ann Arbor. The Broncos also posted three-straight shutout wins in the month of September.
The Brown & Gold boasted two Second Team All-MAC honorees, as Kai Mendes and Darren Jones received the award for the second-straight year. WMU had three players chosen to the MAC All-Tournament Team, Jones, Doug Raak and Pat Schiffer, Schiffer earning the honor for the second year in a row. Schiffer, Mendes and Derek Schrauben were named Academic All-MAC, both Schiffer and Mendes making that list for the second time. Mendes and Shane Lyons each garnered MAC Player of the Week awards.
The 2010 season was one of the Broncos’ most successful in school history, as WMU placed second in the MAC and made only its third ever appearance in the conference tournament championship game. Posting its first double-digit win total since 2003 with an overall record of 10-8-2, WMU also set its highest MAC win mark ever, going 4-2-0 in league play. The Brown & Gold finished second in both the regular season and tournament only to national champion Akron and gave the Zips all they could handle, falling by a narrow 2-1 margin in the regular season on the road.
Western Michigan improved its national ranking by a further 34 places in year two under Riddle, with the program now ranked in nation’s top 100. The Broncos ended 2010 ranked 10th in a highly competitive Great Lakes Region, which produced three of the four teams that advanced to the College Cup, including the national champion, and nine teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. WMU also earned a ninth place ranking earlier in the year.
The Broncos produced three All-MAC selections, three MAC All-Tournament Team nods and landed a player on the Great Lakes All-Region Team for the first time since 2005. Sophomore first-year forward Shane Lyons earned First Team All-MAC honors as well as Third Team All-Region.
Sophomore midfielders Kai Mendes and Darren Jones were both named Second Team All-MAC. Jones, along with classmate Yllson Asani and junior Pat Schiffer were named to the conference all-tournament team. Two Broncos, C.J. Brown and Derek Schrauben, were tabbed MAC Players of the Week. Rounding out the yearly honors was the selection of Mendes and Pat Schiffer to the Academic All-MAC Team.
Western Michigan opened the year with victories in seven of its first 10 games, tallying a signature win at reigning Atlantic 10 champion Dayton. WMU also posted ties at the reigning champions of the Horizon League and Summit League in Green Bay and Western Illinois. The Broncos spent the first five weeks of the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation in total goals scored, and led the nation in goal scoring for two weeks. WMU finished with 33 goals on the year, ranking 45th nationally.
Western Michigan made significant strides in Riddle’s first season, as the Broncos returned to the upper echelon of the MAC. Playing a competitive non-conference schedule, WMU finished the season with an overall record of 6-10-1, doubling its win total from the previous season. Half of those wins came during conference play, as WMU equaled its highest previous MAC finish in school history, placing third with a 3-2-1 record. The Broncos also advanced to the conference tournament semifinals for the first time in four years.
The Brown & Gold grew stronger as the season wore on in 2009. Western Michigan lost just three of its last 10 games of the regular season, winning six and tying one. Of the three losses, the Broncos fell to NCAA Runner-Up Akron and dropped a second contest in the final seconds of double overtime. Western Michigan was narrowly edged in the MAC Tournament semifinals by Hartwick, 3-2.
While the program reaped the benefits of success, players did as well, earning multiple conference and national awards. Scoring 13 goals in 14 games, forward Saeed Sulemana Baba was crowned the NCAA Division I statistical champion for goals per game, averaging 0.93. It was Western Michigan’s first ever statistical champion in the sport of men’s soccer. Tying a school record with four goals against Centenary, he also set the NCAA mark for most goals scored as well as points (8) totaled in a single game in 2009. Additionally, Sulemana Baba ranked third in the nation in points per game, averaging 1.93.
Sulemana Baba was the first player in school history to earn MAC Player of the Week honors twice in a season and was also named to the College Soccer News and Soccer America National Teams of the Week. He, as well as Tyler Rosenhagen, were Second Team All-MAC selections, becoming the first tandem to earn All-MAC honors for WMU since 2006. Sulemana Baba and Kai Mendes both earned a spot on the MAC All-Tournament Team and rounding out conference honors was Shaun Clements, who was named Academic All-MAC. In May 2010, midfielder Darren Jones was one of 21 players selected to represent Canada on its Under-20 National Team.
As a team, Western Michigan scored 29 goals on the season, ranking the Broncos as the 33rd most powerful offense in the country. WMU also improved its national ranking by 72 places.
The positives under Riddle could be seen both on the field and off. In the spring of 2009, the Broncos were the recipients of the NCAA academic award for being in the top 10 percentile of GPA’s for Division I men’s soccer teams. Western Michigan also did its part in the community, raising over $1,000 for Desert Angels, helping ship supplies to troops overseas.
PRIOR TO WESTERN MICHIGAN:
Prior to joining the Broncos, Riddle helped guide Fairfield University to a 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance after defeating previously unbeaten and No. 6 nationally ranked Loyola to win the 2008 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament championship.
In 2008 Riddle also accepted the challenge of developing the Kalamazoo Outrage soccer program with its first season of competition coming that summer. The Outrage finished its inaugural campaign with a 10-7-1 record, beating perennial Premier Development League (PDL) powerhouses the Michigan Bucks and Chicago Fire in the PDL playoffs before losing to eventual national champion Thunder Bay Chill in the last eight of the competition.
Riddle spent two seasons as an assistant soccer coach at the University of Evansville, beginning with the 2005 campaign. In his second year with the Purple Aces the team posted a 9-8-0 record, only the program’s third winning season since 1997. He was responsible for recruiting student athletes as well as coaching and developing players throughout the season. Columbus Crew midfielder Cory Elenio, who was part of the Crew’s 2008 MLS Cup winning side, spent two seasons working closely with Riddle at Evansville while Riddle also assisted in the development of US U-20 national team goalkeeper Alec Dufty and New Zealand U-20 World Cup defender Kieran Purcell.
Riddle’s coaching resume also includes time as head coach for the Kalamazoo Kingdom PDL in 2006 where former LA Galaxy MLS midfielder Josh Tudela and 2006 National High School Player of the Year and U.S. National Team midfielder Eric Alexander spent a season playing under Riddle’s tutelage. The Kingdom became only the second team to defeat the Chicago Fire at home in six seasons when they battled to a 2-0 win in Chicago in May 2006.
RIDDLE’S PLAYING EXPERIENCES:
As a player, Riddle played collegiately at Coastal Carolina University where he was twice named team MVP and was an All-Big South Conference team member in 1997 and 1998. Riddle signed with New Zealand’s first ever professional soccer team the Football Kingz in 1999 where he played with Oceania Player of the Century Wynton Rufer and with current San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) Assistant Coach Jason Batty.
Riddle went on to play professionally in England with Oxford City, Scotland with Greenock Morton and in Australia with Altona Magic. While at Greenock Morton, Riddle was coached by European Cup winner and former Liverpool and Scotland national team star Peter Cormack. He also played in the United States with the Des Moines Menace and West Michigan Edge in the PDL. As a youth player Riddle played alongside Washington head coach Jamie Clark for Western Suburbs FC as a guest player in New Zealand’s national under-19 tournament in which he was one of three nominations for Player of the Tournament.
Riddle made his international debut for the New Zealand Olympic All Whites in January 1996, appearing in a 2-0 victory over the Solomon Islands. He went on to play in four national team games under current University of Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark, highlighted by an appearance in a 1-0 victory over arch rivals Australia in Adelaide.
Riddle holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Premier Diploma. Additionally, he is a contributing writer for Soccer International magazine. He has had articles published with www.tribalfootball.com.
Prior to the 2009 season, Riddle was named as one of nine NCAA Division I head coaches on the NSCAA Men’s National Rankings Committee. He serves as committee head for the Great Lakes Region, reporting weekly to National Chair Carl Rees with a national top 25 and regional top 10 vote.
Riddle has an established a partnership with the English club Sheffield Wednesday that allows players and staff from both clubs to integrate for the benefit of both programs. Riddle maintains his relationship with the Sheffield Wednesday coaching staff and has visited the famed club on three occasions, most recently in the Spring of 2009, to assess training methods and the development of their top players.
Riddle was born in Luton, England, but raised in Wellington, New Zealand. On Aug. 16, 2011, he was sworn in as a naturalized U.S. citizen during an oath ceremony in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Riddle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Coastal Carolina University and a Master of Science in Public Administration from the University of Evansville. He and his wife, Jessica, reside in Kalamazoo. The couple has two daughters, Rylee Noelle (born March 16, 2010) and Nora Jane (7/31/12).
RIDDLE AT A GLANCE
2009-present: Western Michigan University (Head Coach)
2008: Fairfield University (Assistant Coach)
2008: Kalamazoo Outrage [PDL] (Head Coach)
2005-07: University of Evansville (Assistant Coach)
2006: Kalamazoo Kingdom [PDL] (Head Coach)
2001-02: Coastal Carolina (Assistant Coach)
1994-1996: Wellington United (New Zealand)
1996: Chelmsford City FC (England)
1996: New Zealand Olympic National Team
1997-98: Coastal Carolina (All-Big South Conference, ’97, ‘98)
1999: Football Kingz [New Zealand] (Professional)
2001: Oxford City England (Professional)
2001: Greenock Morton [Scotland] (Professional)
2001-02: Des Moines Menace (PDL)
2004: West Michigan Edge (PDL)
2005: Altona Magic [Australia] (Professional)
2006: Kalamazoo Kingdom (PDL)
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT RIDDLE
"Stu and I have been very close friends for over a decade. During this time we played professionally and coached together in a variety of countries. He has always had a great passion and enthusiasm for the game. I've followed his US coaching career with interest, and he has developed a great knack of scouting and recruiting very well from all over the globe!! I'm sure with his drive and work ethic the Broncos will be a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to watching his continued success with Western Michigan in the coming years."
--- Jason Batty, Assistant Coach San Jose Earthquakes, Major League Soccer
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Stu Riddle for 11 years and have always been impressed with his insight, passion and understanding of the game and those who play it. He is without doubt one of the country’s top young coaches. His drive and communication skills set him apart and will guarantee his program future success.”
--- Carl Rees, Head Men’s Soccer Coach Fairfield University Chair of NSCAA National Rankings Committee
“I first knew Stu back in the mid-90s when Stu was a member of the New Zealand Olympic team and I was the head coach. As a player he had a fabulous attitude, great discipline and had a true passion for the game of soccer. We have kept in touch over the years and it is great to see that he has retained his early enthusiasm for the game and is now using his experience to help develop young college players in the U.S. I am confident that he will be a wonderful role model for the players at Western Michigan and I look forward to following his success in the years ahead.”
--- Bobby Clark, Head Men’s Soccer Coach, University of Notre Dame
“Stu’s passion for the game is easy to see, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. His energy and attitude are infectious, and I know that he will be a success at Western Michigan.”
--- Mike Jacobs, Head Men’s Soccer Coach, University of Evansville
“Stu Riddle first came to my notice as a confident, fresh-faced 19-year-old striker with a knack of scoring goals. He continued in that vein throughout his playing career at every level he played in. From my first meeting with him I could tell that there was a special quality about him. Stu has an infectious personality and drive that served him well as a player and that I know will serve him well in his coaching career. He has always been a student of the game and is constantly looking for new ideas and methods for use in his coaching career. He has the ability not only to teach the game at a high level but also the added bonus of being able to demonstrate what is required. I am sure that the players at Western Michigan will benefit greatly from his vast knowledge, ability and enthusiasm.”
--- Ken Dugdale, Head Coach Vollen FC, Norway New Zealand National Team Coach 1998-2002
"I know Stu from crossing paths on a professional playing level in England, during this time I knew he had what it takes to become a top coach with his organizational and leadership qualities. We are now sharing ideas and opportunities for young players in our current roles, it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to work again with Stu at a coaching level and I'm sure he will make a great success of the Broncos."
--- Sean McAuley, Academy Manager, Sheffield Wednesday FC, England
"Stu is an excellent coach who blends his knowledge of the game with very high standards for his players. He is one of the most enjoyable coaches I have ever played for."
--- Eric Alexander, FC Dallas and US National Team Midfielder