“I lost my first and last games at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, but fortunately, we managed to win a few in between.”
That statement was vintage Toby Bares, who announced his retirement March 18 after 26 seasons as UW Oshkosh’s head men’s soccer coach. Bares will transition from coaching to a greater administrative role at UW Oshkosh’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
“I’ve always said two things define soccer here at UW Oshkosh. We are passionate about the game, and we are good for and to each other,” Bares said. “I’ve been blessed that the University has allowed me to pursue that vision for all of these years. We’ve come a long way, and I’m certain that the program will continue to move forward in a positive direction.”
Bares and UW Oshkosh men’s soccer have been synonymous since the program’s inception in 1984. During his tenure as head coach, Bares guided the Titans to an impressive 344-99-39 record, a .754 winning percentage that ranks him among the all-time leaders in all divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Bares has led UW Oshkosh to winning records in each of the past 25 seasons, including marks of 18-0-3 in 1994, 21-1 in 2003, 15-1-2 in 1988, 20-2 in 2000, 17-2-1 in 1999, 14-2-3 in 1991 and 11-2-4 in 1990. Last fall, the Titans posted a 13-4-2 record during their inaugural season as a member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).
“Toby is a legend in the sport of soccer, not only at UW Oshkosh, but at the state, regional and national level as well,” said UW Oshkosh Director of Athletics Allen Ackerman. “Toby grasped the vision to build a nationally competitive soccer program at UW Oshkosh and never looked back. Toby is the complete package as a coach, from his knowledge of the sport to his genuine concern for the student-athlete. He has represented UW Oshkosh with dignity.”
Bares directed UW Oshkosh into NCAA Division III postseason play 11 times, including six in the past 11 seasons. The Titans’ postseason trips included three Final Four, four quarterfinal round and six “Sweet 16” appearances. UW Oshkosh advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Championship in 1994, 2000 and 2003.
Bares had the honor of coaching five All-Americans, including Scott Deopere, who was named the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) in 2000. Bares also coached 33 players to a total of 50 NCAA Division III all-region awards, including three-time honorees Roberto Gutierrez (1993-95), Brad Haga (2001-03) and Will Howell (2007-09).
“I can never thank all of the players enough for giving me so much,” said Bares. “They are my legacy. They have continued to be good friends to each other beyond their days here at UW-Oshkosh. They have gone on to be good professionals, good husbands and fathers, and quite a few good coaches. I’m so proud of all of them.”
Bares has collected several coaching awards as a result of UW Oshkosh’s annual success. In 1994, he was named the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year by the NSCAA. The NSCAA also selected Bares as its NCAA Division III Central Region Coach of the Year in 1994, 2000 and 2003. He also is a recipient of 10 coaching awards from the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association.
“A special thanks goes out to my recent assistant coaches Ryan Dineen, Darren Gallagher, and most of all Sean Steele,” Bares said. “I’d like to also recognize my long-time friend and colleague, Ton de Hoop of the Netherlands, who has been a great mentor and inspiration for me through the years. I also owe so much to my wife, JoAnn, who has been tremendously patient and giving of her time and energy through all of these years.”