Bernie Fagan was a true expert with a soccer ball, but he was equally an expert with people, too. Throughout his life, he combined these two impressive skills to create a legacy that greatly benefited both Warner Pacific and Portland as a whole. Beyond his winning records, Bernie’s humor, kindness, and positive effervescence lifted the spirits of all those around him. He strove to live his life as all good teammates and coaches do: with a constant commitment to back up his fellow players on the field or in life. And he always did it all with a smile on his face. 

While Bernie is now regarded as a local legend, he began his life and career in Sunderland, England. There, he rose through the ranks of the Youth Team of his beloved local Sunderland club where he helped them win the prestigious FA Youth Cup at Wembley Stadium. Soon after, he moved to the US to join the burgeoning NASL at the same time as Pele. He soon settled in Portland to join the Timbers, back when the pitching mound and bases of the old Civic Stadium were ever-present obstacles all the players had to navigate. 

But his story and career did not end when his playing days were over – for the Lord had special plans for Bernie. Instead, he became a celebrated coach. From local summer camps with Portland youth to becoming the International Director for Special Olympics Soccer, Bernie had a passion for fostering the skills, confidence, and enthusiasm of young soccer players everywhere. And, of course, he made sure they had fun while they developed. 

For 26 years Bernie coached soccer at Warner Pacific University. He brought his passion to WPU, building a burgeoning idea into a nationally-ranked sports team. He built up the program, the players… and ultimately more coaches. For Bernie’s passion and enthusiasm meant he wanted to share what he’d found with others. To do this, he worked to help former players become coaches in their own right. With the central idea that the score was not the most important thing, he urged his players and coaches to learn something every practice, every game, and every day.

To do this, he created the Oregon Soccer Academy, bringing in many of his former college players to coach. In doing so, his impact and love of the game multiplied exponentially and throughout the area. It’s perhaps no surprise that Portland is now known as “Soccer City, USA.” 

Today, we can all see the impact of Bernie’s life when passing by Providence Park as the Timbers play, or simply in walking through a park where kids, coaches, parents, and more share the love of a simple game kicking a ball. 

Please consider making a contribution to the Bernie Fagan Memorial Fund. Started by his loving wife Susie and family, this fund will ensure that future student-athletes will be able to receive critical financial support to stay in school and compete for their dreams. 

Please contribute today by clicking here or call WPU Advancement at 503-517-1220.

You have the power to extend Bernie’s legacy of love and hope for the next generation.

Bernie made us all feel like part of the same team. And that’s something we’ll never forget – any of us. Thank you, Coach Bernie.