It’s no coincidence that the Keene State men’s soccer team made three trips to the NAIA National Tournament during Ian Wilson’s career (1978-81). And it’s no secret why the talented defensive back is being inducted into the Keene State Alumni/Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Ian was a consummate stopper and center back athlete,” said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. “He never lost a ball in the air, was strong as an ox, and could go forward with the ball. Ian was the back that opposing teams stayed away from.”
Originally from Bedford Hills, N.Y., Wilson was one of several talented recruits from Fox Lane High School, along with teammates and past Hall of Fame inductees Bert Poirier ’83 and Trevor Franklin ’79 who brought their soccer skills to Keene State. Attending a camp directed by Butcher, along with some of his players, sold Wilson on KSC. “Right then I knew I wanted to go to Keene State,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who becomes the 12th men’s soccer player to enter the hall of fame,
was a hard-nosed competitor and the backbone of the team’s defense. According to Poirier, Wilson could do it all on the field.
“Ian’s ability to dominate in the air was his biggest strength,” recalls Poirer. “But he also had the footwork of a midfielder and the scoring ability of a forward which made him special.”
Standing six-foot tall, Wilson was nicknamed ‘bolt’ for his strong neck and uncanny heading ability. Uncoiling his body and springing skyward, Wilson owned the air. “I was very confident in the air,” Wilson said. “I was always assigned the opposing teams’ top forward and my goal was to shut him down. If I did that we usually won.”
Wilson, who finished his career with 18 goals and 14 assists, often teamed up with Poirier during special team plays. “We didn’t have to talk; we just looked at each other and knew where to go.” Wilson said.
Surrounded by talented teammates brought out the best in Wilson, who twice earned NAIA All-America honors. Helping to lead the Owls into the national soccer spotlight, Wilson has many fond memories playing for Keene State, including his final game against Alabama-Huntsville in the NAIA Tournament.
Going up for a head ball in the first half, Wilson was head-butted and suffered a fractured check bone and concussion. Trailing 1-0 at the time, Wilson’s teammates rallied behind their fallen leader.
“After each goal, the players, led by Burt came over to me and said ‘that for you Ian, that’s for you bolt.”’ I remember sitting there in tears being overwhelmed by their support.”
Wilson went on to get a taste of professional soccer playing for the Detroit Express and Rochester Flash of the America Soccer Association. He later returned to KSC to earn his degree in physical education. Wilson works as a teacher and soccer coach in Danbury Conn. where he resides with his wife Judy and aspiring soccer sons Keith and Kenny.
To this day he holds Coach Butcher in high esteem. “Butcher made me what I am today.” Wilson said. “Without his influence, I am not a school teacher or soccer coach. He had a tremendous impact on my life.”