To kick-off its 40th season of competitive soccer, the College of Charleston men’s soccer team will host the 14th annual Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic at Patriots Point over Labor Day Weekend 2014.
The men’s soccer program, which became a varsity, intercollegiate program in 1974, has opened each of its last 13 seasons in honor of the late Aaron Olitsky, a former Cougar soccer player and 1997 graduate of the College who died tragically in a car accident in 2001.
In addition to watching four first-class soccer matches, alumni, family and friends of the program are invited to celebrate 40 years of Cougar soccer through an alumni game, banquet and a variety of other events.
As part of the 2014 edition of the Classic, the Cougars will face perennial national powerhouse UC Santa Barbara and Seattle, both NCAA Tournament participants from last season. Former Southern Conference rival Furman will also participate in the Classic.
The annual tournament honors the life and work ethic of Aaron Olitsky and raises money for the Olitsky Memorial Foundation.
Olitsky is remembered by many for his dedication and resolve in everything he set out to do. At just 120 pounds, Olitsky weathered the rigors of walking on to the team and sitting out a season’s worth of matches as a redshirt freshman. Despite the odds stacked against him, no one worked harder in practice than Olitsky. A pesky defender, Olitsky’s competiveness was unrivaled as he always took on the most demanding on-field assignments and challenged his teammates to improve with him.
His dedication paid off as he became an integral player as the soccer team experienced some of its most successful years. The Cougars won the Trans America Athletic Conference each season that Olitsky was a member of the team. Olitsky scored the game-winning goals that helped propel the team to NCAA Tournament berths in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
“He was a great player on the ’94, ’95 and ’96 teams whose attitude and persistence have become the standard for our program,” said head coach Ralph Lundy. “He was a bit of an underdog with a spirit that said ‘I will not be defeated’ not only on the soccer field but in all his endeavors. Every day, I challenge our players to be more like Aaron Olitsky.”