Babson’s Soccer Community Honors Its Legendary Coach

Coach Jon Anderson talks to a soccer player

To be a successful coach, you can’t just care about winning championships. 

Of course, they’re important. A focus on only titles and trophies, however, will surely bring disappointment. Instead, a successful coach must care about the student-athletes and concentrate on the day-to-day work of the job, the nitty-gritty details, the hassles, the grind.  

“You have to have the energy, the drive, the love of competition, recruiting, and the phone calls,” says Jon Anderson ’75, P’04 ’08 ’13 ’13, men’s head soccer coach at Babson. “It’s the struggle and the work that gives you the satisfaction. If they just handed you the wins, it would be empty.” 

For 38 seasons, Anderson has done the work. He has found much success on the field, his teams winning 15 conference championships and appearing in 20 NCAA tournaments, and he has helped to guide and shape a generation or two of young men who have played for him. 

In honor of Anderson, the Babson soccer community came together to endow the head coaching position of the men’s soccer team. “This endowment will help to keep our program among the nation’s best,” says Mike Lynch, the Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Associate Vice President for Athletics and Athletics Advancement. “I also think this is an incredibly meaningful way to honor Jon for all he’s done for Babson.” 

The Response Was Overwhelming 

Anderson didn’t know about the endowment at first. The raising of funds, part of Babson Athletics’ larger Champions Forever campaign, was done quietly. Still, it was met with considerable enthusiasm. “When we started to put the word out to alumni, the response was overwhelming,” Lynch recalls. “That shows the impact that Coach Anderson has had on hundreds of young men over the years.” 

Lynch never said a word to Anderson. “He kept it totally secret,” the coach says. “When he told me, I thought, what a great thing for the soccer program. I was speechless.” 

John Anderson
For 38 seasons, Jon Anderson ’75, P’04 ’08 ’13 ’13 has roamed the sidelines of men’s soccer games at Babson.

Such strong backing of Anderson is emblematic of the tight-knit, supportive community that has long surrounded the soccer team. When the team goes on a road trip, for instance, alumni and players’ parents are always helping out. “They really care about this program,” Anderson says. “I really am just blown away and humbled by this happening.” 

Anderson said that endowing the head coaching position will help support the team as budgets and economies inevitably wax and wane in the future. “It can help sustain it during tough times,” he said. 

That stability was important for Jim Olivier ’83, one of the many alumni contributors to the endowment. “Soccer at Babson is a special program,” says Olivier, who served as an assistant coach under Anderson in the early 1990s. “It has a tradition of excellence that I and others want to see continue for future generations.” 

Remains the Same 

Much has changed at Babson since 1986, the year Anderson started at the College. The athletics facilities were smaller, and so was the department. Anderson held multiple roles in those early years. Besides being the men’s soccer coach, he also served as head softball coach and intramural director, and he oversaw facilities.  

“It was a small handful of people at the time. We all did everything,” Anderson says. “To run this place now is a massive job. It is amazing to watch the growth.” 

Some things, however, haven’t changed. Steve Webber ’92, MBA’05 played for Anderson as a student, and he returned to the Beavers three years ago as an assistant coach. “What has stayed the same is the focus on team, the pride of putting the green and white on and working for each other,” Webber says.  

HONOR Jon Anderson ’75, P’04 ’08 ’13 ’13 and support the future of the Babson men’s soccer team by giving to the coaching endowment fund. 

The type of players that put on the green and white also remains the same. Dave “Macker” McEachern ’94, who played under Anderson, says Babson’s players are characterized by the acronym PHD, which stands for pride, heart, and desire. “They will never be outworked on the field by an opponent, and the desire to win goes without saying,” McEachern says. “Coach is key in identifying players to bring to the program that just hate to lose.” 

One other small but noticeable thing has stayed the same: the team’s choice of pregame music. Just as the Beavers have done for decades, since the days that Anderson played for Babson as an undergraduate and was part of Babson’s first national title, the team comes on the field to “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones. “I inherited that,” Anderson says. “I don’t know when it started.” 

That’s not to say that Anderson is stuck in his ways after all these years. To still be winning at an elite level—Anderson’s teams have won 454 games and counting in his Babson career—requires adaptability. “The game has advanced over the years,” Webber says. “To be able to change with the times has been a testament to Coach Anderson’s legacy.”    

What Makes Sports Special 

Like many former players, McEachern has kept in touch with Anderson despite the fact his playing career ended years ago. “He asked a lot of us as young men, and we delivered,” McEachern says. “He has always done the same thing in return.” 

 Every spring, the coach calls him and leaves a voice message with a simple reminder to make the most of his days. “He lets me know that the grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and it is time to get back out on the field,” McEachern says. 

“This endowment will help to keep our program among the nation’s best. I also think this is an incredibly meaningful way to honor Jon for all he’s done for Babson.”
Mike Lynch, the Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Associate Vice President for Athletics and Athletics Advancement

For 38 seasons, Anderson has been out on the field at Babson, and the new endowed position, which will be named for him whenever he chooses to retire, is an acknowledgement of that lifetime of service to the College. Anderson hopes the challenges and hard work of being on a team better prepares his players for the rigors of life. “I hope it builds character along the way,” he says. 

Perhaps his favorite part of coaching is those moments in the season when the hard work pays off and the players grow into leaders. “It is tremendous when it starts to come together,” he says. “This is what makes sports special and what makes this program special. I just sit back and enjoy it.” 

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