If you’re looking for help finding Charles Adair in Blacksburg, you won’t have much luck.
However, if you look for Chugger Adair, you won’t have to look far. Adair, the women’s soccer coach at Virginia Tech, has had the nickname since he was a kid and doesn’t go by anything else.
“They started calling me Chugger as a kid, and it stuck when I was about a year old,” Adair said. “Nobody knows me as Charles. My bank knows me as Chugger, people know me as Chugger.”
Adair came to Virginia Tech in 2006 as an assistant head coach for women’s soccer with 15-plus years of playing and coaching experience.
After former women’s soccer head coach Kelly Cagle resigned to move with her family in 2010, Adair didn’t know if we would be back the following season.
The late Jim Weaver, who was the Director of Athletics at the time, decided to open up a national coaching search for the position. However, Cagle, along with former Senior Associate Athletics Director Sharon McCloskey, urged Weaver to turn the program over to Adair.
“Obviously, I was worried as an assistant and what my future held, but fortunately Mr. Weaver hired me on,” Adair said. “They trusted me to take over the program, and it made me extremely happy.”
Weaver hired Adair in December 2010, and Adair has quickly become one of the most successful head coaches in school history. In six seasons, Adair has a winning percentage of .712 and has led the Hokies to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances since he took over, including appearances in the Round of 16 and the national semifinals.
The humble Adair doesn’t harp on his success, but instead says the players in the program have pushed the Hokies to the top.
“I see where we could have done better at certain times, there are times where I’ve second guessed myself in certain situations, but I think the girls have done a good job and that’s the important part,” Adair said. “They’ve bought in and the leadership and the development has been the key for the program’s success. Trying to keep that moving in the right direction is the main focus for me.”
Virginia Tech regularly finds themselves in the top 25 teams in the country and always competes in the ACC, which is one of the best conferences for women’s soccer in the country. While Virginia Tech historically hasn’t been on par with blue bloods in the sport, the Hokies’ performance in the conference in recent seasons has made it easier to recruit and compete for young talent.
“It’s difficult in a sense, but it’s also easy because it’s a selling point for people to be in and play in the conference,” Adair said. “You look at Virginia Tech and what we have, a wonderful college town, very supportive athletic department, I think when the potential student athletes who are recruits get on campus, they love being here. They see that environment, which is great. You put that in the ACC in women’s soccer, and I think we’re with a bunch of traditional giants, like Carolina and Florida State, UVA as one of our rivals, but those are traditional giants within the sport. To compete against those teams week in and week out is a selling point for recruits and a proving ground for kids who might not have proven themselves as a youth player. It provides an opportunity for them as well, which I think builds into the mentality at Virginia Tech, a blue-collar mentality, of trying to prove yourself.”
Even in a small community, Adair says Blacksburg residents and students have done a great job supporting the program, noting that the Hokies are in the top-35 schools in the country in attendance.
“I think the community has bought in, it’s a big soccer community, they’ve bought in and really supported us,” Adair said. “We are a smaller program in the department, but we do have good support.”
Adair, who has been at Virginia Tech since 2006, said Director of Athletics Whit Babcock has supported Adair and the program at every step of the way.
“He reached out to me on the weekend he was hired, before I even knew there was a hire,” Adair said. “He reached out and called and introduced himself and started that relationship process there, which has been really good. I think he’s been very proactive as we move forward into new NCAA rules and climate changes and things like that, which has been very helpful to us as a department and I think very beneficial to the student athletes. They see the support and the care that the athletic department and the administration has done. He’s been very supportive of us as a program.”
Virginia Tech women’s soccer is coming off a solid regular season, but a disappointing NCAA Tournament performance. The Hokies won their opening round match against Cincinnati, but lost to Ohio State in the second round.
“I think Ohio State did a very good job in their gameplan and it executed well for them because of that. I don’t think we were as good as we needed to be on the day. It was frustrating to have 22 shots, give up five shots, and lose 1-0. I don’t think we were as motivated in that match and looking beyond that, against Penn State, which would’ve been the Sunday game for us. That was frustrating, because I think we underachieved compared to our potential last year. That’s left a little sour taste in my mouth, to be honest.”
The Hokies lost five seniors this summer, including Morgan Conklin, Jordan Coburn and 2015 first team All-ACC player Ashley Meier. Adair is relying on young and more experienced players, including Murielle Tiernan, Madi Conyers, Kallie Peurifoy and Blayne Fink, to pick up where the seniors left off.
No matter the roster, Adair has high expectations for his team.
“For me, we try to put ourselves in position to make a run every year,” Adair said. “Making the ACC Tournament will be our first goal, and that takes winning some of our non-conference or even all of our non-conference to put us in a position to get into conference. If we’re .500 in conference, that’s usually a pretty good year in the ACC because you’re going to take some losses typically.”
Adair’s recruiting class is a mix of athletic and technical players, many of whom can play multiple positions. Adair says Jess Boytim and Jordan Hemmen are athletic, raw players who should support in the backfield while Amanda McGlynn could compete for playing time at goal keeper right away. Chandler McDaniel is also expected to compete for time at multiple positions, but will miss early parts of training camp as she competes for the Philippines in the Asian Cup.
“We’ve got a well-balanced group,” Adair said. “I think we’ve got some kids who were blue-chip kind of kids in the recruiting process, but also some kids who are eager to prove themselves and they’ll fit right in with our group and be a little more grinding, gutting it out type mentality which we look forward to.”
Oddly enough, Adair has practically finished his recruiting for the Class of 2017, and is working on the 2018 and 2019 classes now. Adair says the soccer recruiting window is too early, but that he’s doing what he needs to do in order to keep up with other programs.
“I wish it wasn’t as early as it is,” Adair said. “Some programs are pushing the envelope. Some of the bigger programs think they’re going to get a step ahead and even some of the programs who might be mid-majors who might offer significant dollars to a student that they might not get if they wait. Everything is kind of ramping up a little bit and its making it more challenging for everyone in that aspect.
“We’ve tried more of a relationship-based recruiting process. We want to get to know these kids a little bit more before, we just don’t try to commit to who we think is the best kid, we want to commit the right kid. Who’s got the best personality, who’s going to continue working, continue to grow academically and personally. We’re look at the overall person that we want to bring in.”
Adair has had plenty of success in Blacksburg, but he says fans shouldn’t worry about him leaving the program, saying he wants to remain at Virginia Tech as long as the school will have him.
“It’s been great to be here,” Adair said. “The environment, the support, the people of Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech family has been awesome, so I think that’s added to my experience at Virginia Tech.”