FCA is honored to announce Westmont College’s Dave “Wolfy” Wolf as the recipient of the 2023 Layton Shoemaker Award. The award recognizes a soccer coach that honors God on and off the field and models a strong relationship with Christ to their players.
“Fellowship of Christian Athletes is pleased to present the inaugural Layton Shoemaker Award to Dave Wolf,” said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “We congratulate Coach Wolf not only for his coaching accomplishments, but also for the way he uses his coaching position to influence countless young athletes for the Kingdom of God.”
The award is named after famed Messiah University soccer coach Layton Shoemaker. Over 23 years, Shoemaker directed the Falcons to a .751 winning percentage, with a 316-96-27 overall record, eight NCAA playoff berths, and two NCAA Final Four appearances in 1986 and 1988. Two of his teams, in 1978 and 1981, won the national NCCAA championship. His influence led many Messiah soccer alumni to go on to coach soccer at the high school and collegiate levels. As a tribute to his lasting legacy, Messiah’s soccer field is named Shoemaker Field.
To say that Dave Wolf is the winningest coach in Westmont men’s soccer history is no small statement of accomplishment. Not only has Westmont won 674 games — second most among NAIA schools — but in the Warriors’ 58-year history, there have been only four coaches, all of whom have produced a win-loss percentage of at least .625. In 2008, Wolf surpassed legendary Russ Carr (202-106-31) for the longest tenure as Westmont’s head coach. In 31 years, Wolf produced a record of 362-177-58 (.655). The current 2022-2023 year is Wolf’s last season as head coach.
Asked to describe himself as a coach, Wolf replied, “The phrase that I would most associate with myself is ‘motivation through affirmation.’ This isn’t because I am trying to be a good guy. The greatest joy I get in coaching is that I enjoy believing in people. I love getting behind people, telling them they can do the job we are asking them to do. I love encouraging, being positive. There are times to say hard things and be direct. But who I am is on the side of saying, ‘We can do this. You have the quality to accomplish this. I am going to believe in you all the way to the final whistle.’”
Wolf’s dedication to soccer is only surpassed by his love for the Lord. Every player knows that Christ is Wolf’s first priority. All practices and games start with the team taking a knee, locking arms and praying that the Lord would be glorified. Wolf has served in many ministerial roles as well, including his 5th year on the FCA board in Santa Barbara, California, where he has helped put on multiple coaches retreats to impact the next generation of coaches for the Gospel.
One of Wolf’s former athletes said of his legacy, “Dave Wolf made a life changing impact during a pivotal time of my development. From the first day I met Wolfy, he made it very clear that his main goal was to help me find out who God created me to be. I would hear these words over and over during my 4-year college soccer career. It was amazing that these were not just words but lived out actions. Wolfy would take the time to share how Jesus changed his life and allow us the freedom to approach him with questions and discussions. Through the intensity of college athletics, I was taught how to lead through failure, how to handle disagreements on the field, and to possess humility in success. As a young man trying to find my own faith, I loved Wolfy’s approach to always allow space for his athletes to find their own journey with God on their own terms, yet remain close enough to show us his life, family, and legacy through Christ.”
Wolf and his wife Jill — coincidentally the first All-American in the history of the Wheaton women’s soccer program (and also a member of the Wheaton Athletic Hall of Honor) — have five children: Tanner, who played for Westmont before graduating in 2016, Lauren, Bailey, also a Wheaton College graduate (2020) and four-year member of the women’s soccer team, Payton, and Jackson, who is currently on Westmont’s Men’s Soccer team.
Photos courtesy of Westmont College Athletics and Brad Elliott/WESTMONT