When senior Rick Stimpson learned that Bryan Scales had been named head coach of the Cornell men’s soccer team his sophomore year, he reacted somewhat unusually, journeying to the newly anointed coach’s house with a message. The now tri-captain told Scales: “I refuse to play for you.”
Thankfully, he was just kidding.
Two years removed from that season, Stimpson has done more than just play for Scales. He’s helped to lead the Red from mediocrity to contention for an Ivy League championship, and has staked his claim as the squad’s premier offensive threat.
The Cheshire, England native has left an indelible mark on the Cornell program, but in his final year on the East Hill, Stimpson is looking to fulfill his only unrealized dream — to take home an Ivy League crown.
After all, he’s earned just about every individual accolade possible. The midfielder is the only Cornellian in the history of the program to be named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and has been selected to the First Team All-Ivy squad for each of the past three years.
Stimpson began his career at the age of 12, late by British standards. He slowly worked his way up through the ranks to what has turned out to be an illustrious career. Growing up outside Manchester, love for the game became contagious. Before he knew it, Stimpson was faced with a choice — he could play professionally within England or come to America and play at the collegiate level.
The only freshman to ever lead the Big Red in scoring, Stimpson says he doesn’t have any regrets about the cross-Atlantic migration. During his junior year, the recruiting process started. Harvard, Yale, Brown and Penn all said no. Stimpson came to Cornell that winter as a last resort. Struck by the beauty of the campus and the team chemistry, the formerly dejected star decided to come to come to Ithaca.
As a freshman in ’97, he had huge shoes to fill. The program was living in the shadow of a 1995 Ivy League title and had lost several of its key players to graduation. Despite the obstacles, Stimpson excelled, garnering First-Team All-Ivy honors by tallying 8 goals and notching 2 assists. In ’98, he enjoyed another successful season, moving to the midfield. Last season was a disappointing one for Stimpson, as he found himself filling unfamiliar positions.
In his final season, Stimpson has a point to prove and a dream to attain.
“I don’t worry about other people’s opinions. I’m only concerned with satisfying my own standards,” he said.
Motivated by last season’s mediocrity, Stimpson believes he has the best supporting class he has ever had in the chase for an Ivy League ring.
“This team is more hungry than ever,” Stimpson noted.
With added depth, he believes the team has the insurance it needs against injury.
Sometime early this season, the midfielder should break Cornell’s all time assist record, a mark currently belonging to assistant coach Rob Elliot ’97.
Despite the daunting task of being a student-athlete at Cornell, he finds time to coach a local squad of 15-year olds. Just as impressive as his soccer contributions, are his leadership attributes. Stimpson sees himself as a valuable resource to freshman and a good motivator.
But as much as an Ivy League title, he wants to leave Cornell with something more — a legacy. Stimpson, who has a legitimate chance to land a spot with an MLS club, wants the 2000 team to set the new standard for excellence as the ’95 team has for the past few years.
In the wake of the face-lift Berman Field received, Stimpson knows the standards will be even higher, but so too will the excitement. Complete with seating for 1,000 and adorned with an impressive lighting system he hopes it will bolster the club’s image.
“Everything seems to be falling into place,” Stimpson said, knocking on the wooden table in front of him.
Archived article by Gary Schueller