In just his second season as head coach of the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team, Charles “Chugger” Adair has already taken the program where it has never gone before.
Under Adair, the Hokies reached the program’s all-time high in the polls (No. 8), went undefeated in non-conference play for the first time ever, and made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
A program that has struggled for most of its 18 years in existence, the Hokies began to build momentum in the late 2000’s. But after an outstanding 2009 season, a pedestrian 2010 season, and the resignation of then-head coach Kelly Cagle, it looked like the program may fade back into mediocrity.
But then came Adair, a five-year scout and assistant coach for Tech, who was promoted to head coach between the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Even if the athletic department had to deliberate as to whether to hire in-house or look elsewhere, the players knew all along who they wanted to coach them.
“It was surprising for all of us because we had gotten so accustomed to having Kelly (Cagle) here,” said senior defender Julia Goldsworthy. “But we knew that Chugger was the best person by far for the job. We didn’t have anyone else in mind. I feel like he was born to be a head coach.”
Adair had spent many years playing before coaching, even though he’s been most successful on the sidelines. While earning All-American accolades at the University of San Diego, then-head coach Tony Da Luz noticed Chugger was special.
“He had a quiet fire. You could always see the fire burning underneath there. He was always competing,” Da Luz said. “You could see that he held himself to high standards.”
Da Luz has gone from mentor to opponent now, as he coaches the women’s soccer team at Wake Forest.
After Adair's stellar years at the collegiate level, he moved on to play professionally. He saw time with the U.S. National Futsal Team, as well as playing in Belgium and in Major League Soccer.
“For me, playing was the best," Adair said. "It wasn’t just the competitions or games. It was the interactions with teammates, the training, being at practice, locker room moments with teammates, all of that. No better job than when you’re playing a game for your job, but the next best is definitely coaching.”
Though he never got too comfortable wherever he was. Adair bounced around from club to club for 10 years, and eventually found himself in a position where his future was brighter coaching than out on the pitch.
“There were difficult days. I got released in Belgium after six months and I was by myself. It keeps you on edge,” he said.
But Adair might not be the coach he is now if not for those trying times on the field. After deciding to hang up his cleats, he began his coaching career back where it all started: the University of San Diego — though he didn't stay in one place for very long.