I remember arriving at Rudd Field and hearing a loud, thick English accent overtaking all other noises.
That voice, of course, belonged to former Elon University head men’s soccer coach Darren Powell. It was hard not to hear him frantically yelling during the game, and it was one of the staples from my first Elon soccer game.
Powell resigned April 3 after nine years of leading the Phoenix. He tallied 94 wins, a program record, and won consecutive Southern Conference Tournaments to advance to three NCAA Tournaments. Powell will now make the jump to the Major League Soccer level, accepting a position with the Orlando City Soccer Club, an expansion club.
It was a bit of a surprise, but it was inevitable he’d receive higher offers after what he’s done for Elon’s program. In less than a decade, Powell took a team that had finished 1-5-1 in SoCon action during its first two years in the league and turned it into a national force.
His resignation marks the end of an era at Elon, a time in which “Pack the Fence” and “Rudd Magic” became phrases synonymous with Phoenix soccer. Crowds filled Rudd Field to watch Elon take on and beat national powers such as Wake Forest University and Coastal Carolina University.
An announced attendance of 3,348 at Rudd saw Elon beat Clemson University in penalty kicks this past year to advance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
During those penalty kicks, Powell paced up and down the sideline, unable to watch the action. After the game, with his hands folded behind his back, he’d calmly tell the media he had confidence in his players.
Powell, always clad in a baseball cap, would hop out of his chair near the Elon bench, most of the time exclaiming his dislike of a call. No matter what he was saying, his voice carried.
I strolled by Rudd Field April 5 to see Elon competing in a spring game. The first thing I heard? A strong English accent from near the benches.
That’s something I’ll miss come the fall. Here’s wishing the Englishman the best, wherever his travels take him.