Pearse Tormey, Soccer Great

Pearse Tormey, Soccer Great

Editor’s Note:  The following is the second of a series of articles that will appear in the Clemson Vault this summer commemorating the 2015 Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees.  The induction ceremony will be held the weekend of the Georgia Tech football game on October 9-10. The 2015 Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame Class was announced on April 28. For more information about the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame and the induction ceremony contact Bob Mahony at (864) 656-2974.


by Sam Blackman

For former Clemson star Pearse Tormey, desire, dedication, and attitude are the intangibles that enabled him to be one of the best soccer players in Clemson history. Evidence of this was being a two-time All-American and first team all-league performer in 1989 and 1990 in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. This fall he will be inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Great Clemson Career

Tormey finished his Clemson career (1987-90) with 40 goals and 41 assists.  He is one of a very few to be a member of the 40-40 club in the nation. Teammate and former Clemson star Bruce Murray is the other Tiger to have reached this milestone. 

His motivation and work ethic are products of his Irish background.  He came to Clemson from Drogheda, Ireland in 1987 and helped lead the Tigers, as a freshman, to their second national championship in four years.

Clemson soccer fans remember him best for his tremendous play in the NCAA Tournament in 1987. He started all five tournament matches and finished with three goals and three assists.  In the semifinal match, Tormey scored two goals and had one assist in the Tigers’ 4-1 win over North Carolina.   He also assisted Bruce Murray on the game-winning goal to upset top ranked Indiana and scored Clemson’s first goal of the playoffs versus Evansville.

Before Clemson

One of the reasons Tormey chose Clemson was because it reminded him of his home-a quiet, friendly atmosphere that allowed him to grow as a person.

“In the summer of 1987, I was looking for different ways of coming to America,” said Tormey, who started all four years as a forward.

“I had a strong desire to play collegiate soccer in America.  My father reached Coach I.M. Ibrahim and found out they were offering scholarships,” continued Tormey.

“In April of 1987 John Rootes (then an assistant soccer coach at Clemson) came over to Ireland.  He watched us practice and came to two or three of our games.  He later offered me a full scholarship to come to Clemson.   “I had to choose between a couple of colleges in New York and Clemson.  I decided Clemson would be the place for me.  Clemson is similar to my hometown, Drogheda, as it’s a small and quiet place.  In my hometown, I lived in a city of 22,000 people and everybody is friendly like Clemson.  In both places, everything is within walking distance and the atmosphere is great. 

“I am very thankful to Coach Ibrahim for giving me the opportunity to play soccer at Clemson and receiving a great education.

“I am also very thankful to my father and mother and wife Noeline who have supported me in everything I do and gave me every opportunity to better myself in life.”  

The late coach, Dr. I.M. Ibrahim was grateful that Tormey came to Clemson as stated in an earlier interview. “Pearse had an outstanding career,” said Ibrahim  “He had a tremendous determination to be successful   He was an outstanding, humble, and hard- working striker.  He was always just so eager to succeed on and off the field.” 

A Big Decision

As in the case of many successful athletes, Tormey learned the game at an early age. In Ireland, soccer’s popularity is comparable to football in America.

“In Europe, it’s a little different.  Soccer’s popularity is the same as basketball, football or baseball is here in America.  You play everyday as a kid.  We would put our shirts down for goals and played soccer right in the streets.  When cars would come by, we would have to run and pick up our shirts so they would not get run over.  

“When I was six or seven, I had to play in the streets against kids 10-12 years old.  This made me tougher.  I did not start playing organized league soccer until I was 12 or 13.” 

Tormey was also a basketball star in Ireland and had to make a tough decision as to which sport he wanted to pursue.

“When I was 15, I decided I wanted to represent my country and I had to choose between soccer and basketball.  I was picked to represent Ireland in both sports on the under-16 teams, and I played on both teams for one year.  After that year, I realized that I had to make a decision between them and be dedicated to one sport, so I chose soccer.”

The All-American striker, who scored four goals against Presbyterian in 1989, adopted to the American lifestyle and has enjoyed a very successful coaching career on the youth level. 

“In Ireland, the culture trains and motivates you towards getting into the real world and getting a job right away after only a few years of school.  The American society is much different. The Clemson experience has definitely helped me and I am so glad I received my degree from Clemson.”

His Clemson Experience and Degree Paid Big Dividends

The experience I had at Clemson opened up an entirely new world to me. An education opens up the option to go almost anywhere you wish in America,” said Tormey.  

Tormey earned a degree in business.  He is so thankful to have this degree in hand and he credits his diploma in helping him later in life. 

At Clemson he coached local youth at a league in nearby Anderson.   He was also an administrator for the Anderson YMCA Youth Soccer program.    He is now the Co-Executive Director of Carolina Elite Soccer Academy.  

“I really enjoy coaching and developing young players.   It’s great that I get paid for something that I thoroughly enjoy.  I am so thankful to be a Clemson alumnus as well, and I love being part of the Clemson family.”

Tormey is married to the former Noeline Floody and they have two children, Keith who is a senior at Clemson and Annamaria who will be a senior in high school. 

The Clemson Hall of Fame

“Being inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame is very special to me. It’s a great privilege and honor to be selected to join such a prestigious group. I was very fortunate to have stayed healthy and was able play in 82 matches (80 starts). But most importantly I graduated from Clemson.   

“The greatest athletic moment in my Clemson career was, of course, winning the National Championship. As I get older, I appreciate and cherish that championship more and more each year. We had a special team in 1987. We played as a team and our hard work paid off in the long run.  I am so glad that I live close to Clemson and can still be a part of things. I still go to soccer matches at Historic Riggs Field.   Coach Noonan is doing a great job at Clemson.”

Tormey is an example of how intangibles such as desire, dedication and the proper attitude are needed to be successful in any role, sports or life.