Buckley retires as AF women's soccer coach

Air Force women's soccer coach Marty Buckley talks with one of his players Aug. 29, 2008. Buckley announced his retirement recently after completing his six seasons as an assistant men's coach and 17 seasons as women's soccer coach, during which time he led the Falcons to an 111-181-17 overall record. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Boettcher)

Air Force women's soccer coach Marty Buckley talks with one of his players Aug. 29, 2008. Buckley announced his retirement recently after completing his six seasons as an assistant men's coach and 17 seasons as women's soccer coach, during which time he led the Falcons to an 111-181-17 overall record. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Boettcher)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- After 17 years as the head of women's soccer at the Air Force Academy, Marty Buckley has announced his retirement from coaching. 

Buckley will stay at the Academy as the area coordinator for lifetime sports in the department of physical education. 

Buckley just completed his 23rd season as a coach at the Academy after serving as an assistant men's coach for six seasons. Buckley started the women's soccer program in 1992 and directed the team's transition from Division II to Division I in 1996. In his 17 seasons at the helm, he led the Falcons to a 111-181-17 overall record. 

Larry Friend, Buckley's long-time assistant, has been named the interim head coach for the 2009 season. Friend completed his 11th season with the Falcons and has been an integral part of the program since its inception in 1992. A 1985 Academy graduate and four-year letterman, Friend served as an assistant coach from 1992 to 1996 while on active duty and again from 2002 to the present. He retired from the Air Force in 2005 after 20 years of service. 

"I'm extremely grateful to the Air Force Academy for the all the support and the opportunity to lead the women's soccer program," Buckley said. "I am really excited about this new challenge to continue to work with the outstanding young men and women at the Academy. Being the first head coach in the history of the program, I am confident that the program is in good hands with Larry and he will keep the program going in the right direction." 

After six years as an assistant men's coach, Buckley jumped at the chance to guide the women's soccer program in its first season as an intercollegiate sport in 1992. In four seasons, Buckley built the program into one of the nation's strongest Division II teams, rising as high as 13th in the nation in 1995. In 1996, the Falcons made the jump to Division I and joined the Western Athletic Conference. In its first season, the Falcons qualified for the WAC Tournament and finished the year with an 8-10-2 record. In 1999, Buckley again led the Falcons into unchartered territory as Air Force left the WAC to join the newly formed Mountain West Conference. The change was taken in stride as the Falcons posted their best season ever at Division I and won a game at the conference tournament in 1999. 

A 1978 graduate of California State-Chico, Buckley earned a bachelor's degree in physical education. He earned his master's degree in sports administration from St. Mary's College, Calif. in 1989. He came to the Academy in the fall of 1986 to be the assistant men's coach to Luis Sagastume. 

"Marty Buckley has been a mainstay of our department and an outstanding coach for more than 23 years," said Col. Billy Walker, deputy director of athletics. "He took our women's program from club status to Division II and then to Division I, and not many coaches can say they've done that. We're extremely excited that he's staying on in our physical education department. Anyone who's ever taught with Marty or been a student of his will attest to his professionalism as a physical educator."