KENSINGTON – Maryland resident Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips is known in soccer circles as the man who guided Howard University to a pair of NCAA championships in the early 1970’s.
In Phillips’ autobiography entitled “Rising Above and Beyond the Crossbar,” the native of Trinidad and Tobago tells the story of how he made history by becoming the first college coach to lead a Historically Black University to an NCAA title.
“The 10 years I spent at Howard is a big part of my life in the autobiography,” said the 75-year-old Phillips, who has enjoyed an illustrious career in soccer as both a player and coach.
Unfortunately, the Bison were stripped of their national championship in 1971 but won the title again three years later.
“All my mind was on was redemption,” recalled Phillips, who guided the Bison to a 19-0-0 record in 1974. “I don’t know about the championship but we aim to win every single game.”
Mission accomplished. Since 1974, no other NCAA men’s soccer program has finished the season unbeaten and untied.
Redemption Song, a documentary scheduled to air on ESPN’s Sportscenter in June, shines the spotlight on Phillips and his Howard University players who overcame racial injustice to achieve the ultimate prize.
As a star goalkeeper, Phillips once competed against the likes of Pele and other well-known players. He played professionally overseas and competed in the United States for both the Baltimore Bays and the Washington Darts.
Following his 10-year stint at Howard, Phillips landed in Montgomery County where he became the athletic director at Newport Preparatory School on Newport Mill Road in Kensington.
Although the private school once known as the Town and Country Day School/Newport Preparatory School is no longer around, the building is still there: Newport Mill Middle School is now part of Montgomery County Public Schools.
Earlier this week, Phillips reminisced about his tenure at Newport Prep. He recalled the renovation project that included refurbishing the gym with new floors and backboards for the basketball court.
“I transformed this gym from nothing to something,” Phillips admitted.
In the 1980’s, the Newport Prep boys’ basketball program flourished under then-head coach Harold Gaither, a former NBA scout with the Washington Bullets.
“We brought in a top basketball coach and that’s when he started recruiting,” said Phillips, pointing at the scoreboard. “When they came in, they started scoring 100 points.”
Over the years, Phillips has also served as a mentor to young soccer players. He runs the Lincoln Phillips Soccer School that has produced a number of elite players including Desmond Armstrong, Darryl Gee, Zach Thornton and Russell Payne.
“Those are some of the guys that passed through our soccer camp,” he said.
Phillips, who is certified by the United States Soccer Federation, also helped prepare American goalkeeper Tony Meola for the 1994 World Cup.
“We produced some of the best players in Maryland and Virginia,” said Phillips.