The elderly campus cop refuses to let Jerry Yeagley drive into the special parking lot because his sticker has expired. "I'm the coach of the soccer team," Yeagley tells him, angling for a little of the respect reserved at Indiana University for winning teams.
"O.K. this time," says the cop, "but I won't let you in again."
Once in the magnificent new athletic-building, Yeagley strides down a plushly carpeted corridor. The nameplates on the doors read like a Who's Who of college coaching: Jim (Doc) Counsilman, who led Indiana to six NCAA titles and was the men's swim coach at Montreal; Bobby Knight, coach of Indiana's pride and joy, the 1976 NCAA champion basketball team.
The carpeting ends, but Yeagley keeps walking: down the stairs, past the equipment room to a tiny office with chicken wire in the glass. He apologizes to a visitor. "This used to be the janitor's office," he says. "They say we'll move soon."
The reason Yeagley has second-class quarters is that soccer is only in its fourth varsity year at IU and hasn't produced many dollars for the budget or titles for the brochures. The reason Yeagley may be on his way to better office space is that his Hoosiers have been the big surprise of this college season, starting out unmentioned and unranked and finishing 15-0-1, rated second nationally behind Clemson and headed for the NCAA playoffs.
"I've coached soccer here for 14 years," Yeagley says. "The first 10 we were just a club and intramural sport. I wanted to build a soccer power, to make something special, and we're on the way now. I had chances to go to better soccer schools and even the pros, but I stuck it out and I'm glad."
The theories that made the 36-year-old Yeagley a successful club coach (78-25-7) still define his varsity style and approach. "I don't like the concept of 'stars,' " he says, "the kind of team you can build by recruiting heavily in Africa and Jamaica. Clemson does it, and very successfully, but for me it is easier to build teamwork with American players."
Nonetheless the Hoosiers do have a star this year, and he is a foreigner to boot. Angelo DiBernardo, a 20-year-old freshman from Argentina who graduated from a suburban Chicago high school, is instrumental in IU's success. A striker of surprising speed and touch, DiBernardo scored all of the Hoosier goals against St. Louis University in a 5-1 upset of the perennial NCAA soccer power that propelled Indiana into national prominence. The last two goals were one-on-one hits.
DiBernardo is mastering the star's art of understatement. "I didn't think I could do it," he says of his five-goal game, "but my aim is for the '78 World Cup, so I have to get ready." And he downplays the importance of his individual talents. "We are so close as a team, it's amazing," he says. Eighteen goals for a freshman is also amazing, especially when you learn that he missed five games because of injuries.
One could observe the Yeagley/DiBernardo style in IU's last real test of the season, a game with old rival Cleveland State on a miserably cold and cloudy afternoon, with 1,110 frozen fans watching the action in the 52,354-seat Indiana football stadium.