WATERVILLE — Mark Serdjenian had never even played competitive soccer until first setting foot on the Colby College campus in the fall of 1969. Now, more than five decades later, the state of the art soccer complex at the school will carry his name.

Colby College announced Monday that it is naming its soccer field Mark R. Serdjenian 1973 Field, honoring a coaching career which spanned 40 years on the Colby touchline. Serdjenian, now the head coach of the Waterville Senior High School girls soccer team, was still processing the news upon receiving the honor.

“I think it’s the ultimate honor for a coach,” said Serdjenian, who spent 23 years as Colby’s associate dean of students until retiring in 2016. “It’s a bit overwhelming in a wonderful way. It’s a great recognition. Every educator certainly doesn’t get that.”

Serdjenian Field is part of Colby’s ongoing considerable facelift to its athletics facilities. One of three new outdoor athletics fields on campus, the soccer field sits adjacent to the new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, which would have opened this year for Colby’s basketball and ice hockey teams.

Serdjenian, who grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, came to Colby from a baseball and wrestling background, and he was encouraged to participate in soccer as a first-year student on Mayflower Hill. He spent a season on the freshman team for the Mules before stepping into a starting role with the varsity in his first game as a sophomore.

From there, Serdjenian never missed another Mule game inside the sticks, earning honors on Maine’s all-collegiate all-star teams for each of his three years as the starting goalkeeper.

Just three years after graduation, in 1976, Serdjenian took the head coaching role for Colby’s men’s soccer team — a position he held for 38 years.

“Times were different then, no doubt,” Serdjenian said. “When I was first hired I was 24 years old, and I was teaching third grade at Brookside School in Waterville. I did that teaching and being the head coach for eight years, before I moved to Colby (full-time).”

After graduating, Serdjenian spent a couple of seasons in the high school game with the Waterville boys, learning how to manage a team and adding some insights into the technical side of the game.

At Colby, Serdjenian was the New England NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1990, a two-time Maine coach of the year (1990 and 1993) and led the Mules to the Eastern College Athletic Conference New England Division III championship in both 1978 and 1993.

For his coaching career, Serdjenian compiled a 261-230-46 record with the Colby men.

In a statement released by Colby College, athletic director Mike Wisecup called Serdjenian’s contributions to the school “remarkable.”

“From his leadership of the men’s soccer team to his work as an associate dean, Mark had a profound influence on generations of students,” Wisecup said in the statement. “Not only coaching them through many winning seasons but also building deep relationships and teaching skills that have endured beyond graduation. That truly speaks to the significant impact Mark had on the Colby community.”

For the final two years of his tenure at Colby, he was the interim head coach of the school’s women’s soccer program. At the time of his retirement, Serdjenian was the longest-tenured head coach — in any sport — in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

“Clearly I owe a lot to Colby for the opportunities that were given me, both on the academic side and through coaching,” said Serdjenian, who lives in Waterville with his wife, Tina. The couple’s son, Kerry Serdjenian, is currently the Waterville boys varsity coach.

On the soccer pitch now bearing his name, Mark Serdjenian still has the opportunity to make memories there. His Waterville girls have gone 60-16-2 in the five years under his direction, including the 2016 Class B North regional championship.

It’s been quite a run for the man who had never given soccer a thought until he first set foot on the Colby campus.

“Sports were huge in Cranston, where I grew up,” Serdjenian recalled. “Cranston East was a really big school with 2,100 kids for three grades. We had the New England champions in hockey, tennis and swimming during the time that I was there.

“I had never seen a soccer game before I got to Colby. It just wasn’t part of the sports landscape there.”

Now, with this week’s news, no one will see a soccer game at Colby without the Serdjenian name being part of it.

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