While his playing career originally brought Ireland-native Joe Waters to Tacoma, his coaching career has left his most significant mark on the South Puget Sound region. Waters receives the Frosty Westering Excellence in Coaching Award based primarily on his nearly-30-year stretch on the sideline for the Bellarmine Prep boys soccer program.
Waters took the reins of the Bellarmine Prep boys soccer team in 1992, and in 27 years since he's led the Lions to 15 league titles and 19 state tournaments. His teams have advanced to the state semifinals seven times, claiming state championships in 2004 and 2008. The 2004 squad was named national champions by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He's received Coach of the Year honors at virtually every level: all-league, all-area, all-state, and all-region.
He has elevated the Bellarmine Prep boys soccer program to arguably the top in the state, as the Lions have made more state appearances (29) than any other program that has claimed at least one title. Waters has been on the sideline for 19 of those 29 appearances.
While leading one dominant program would be enough of an achievement on its own, Waters' resume boasts far more. Since 2003, he has held a monopoly on Bellarmine Prep soccer, as he also coaches the girl's team in the fall (the boys play in the spring). In his time at the helm of the girls, program, he's led the Lions to eight league titles, 10 state tournament appearances, three semifinals, and the 2004 state title.
Born June 20, 1953, Waters grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and began playing professional soccer at age 15. He was named Rookie MVP with Leicester City and played for the Irish national team before coming to Tacoma to play for the Stars of the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1984. His stellar play continued as he set records for blocked shots and was named MISL Man of the Year.
Waters' coaching career began in 1988 when he became the Calgary Kickers player-coach. He also served as an assistant with the Tacoma Stars from 1989-92 and served as head coach of the Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team from 1998-2002 and led the Tacoma Stars of the Major Arena Soccer League in 2013.
Waters has often served in multiple coaching roles at once. Since beginning his dominant reign with the Bellarmine Prep boys in 1992, he's simultaneously coached the Tacoma Stars (1992, 2013), Gig Harbor High School girls (1992-98, including six league titles, six state tournaments, and six semifinals), PLU men's soccer (1998-2002) and Bellarmine Prep girls (2003-present). Through it all, he's maintained a consistently high level for the Lions and left a permanent legacy on the soccer history of the Tacoma area.