Aydin O. Gonulsen

Aydin O. Gonulsen, 78, of Shipman, IL died at 3:10 am, Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at St. John’s Hospital. He was born February 15, 1943 in Izmir, Turkey to Muharrem and Ulviye (Hasyigin) Gonulsen.

Aydin and his brother Yavuz were instrumental in starting the YMCA soccer program in Springfield, IL, in the late and early 1970s. Those efforts were critical in launching the modern-day soccer community in Central Illinois.

Aydin went on to become the first Athletic Director and Head Soccer Coach at Sangamon State University in 1976. Building the soccer program from the ground up, he and a group of student athletes laid down the sod on the first SSU soccer field.

From there, he led SSU and later the University of Illinois-Springfield to 400 career victories and three NAIA national championships in 1986, 1988 and 1993. His teams appeared in more than 20 NAIA national tournaments. His teams also appeared in two World Collegiate Soccer Championships, including a 2-1 win over former NCAA champion UCLA in 1988.

After retiring from coaching at UIS, Aydin took over the Blackburn College men’s and women’s soccer teams, helping revitalize those programs.

He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2000, and the University of Illinois-Springfield Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a member of the Warren Wilson College Hall of Fame.

Prior to his coaching career, Aydin was a two-time NCJAA All-American soccer player at Warren Wilson, where he set the school record for goals scored in a season.

He loved snow skiing, water skiing and traveling to see family in the United States and Turkey.

He married Suna Uslu, January 15, 2008 and she survives.

Also surviving are two daughters, Peri (Mitch) Pugh of Charleston, SC and Amanda Gonulsen of Denver, CO and their mother, Mimi Rutherford Gonulsen; one grandson, Sebastian Aydin Pugh and one brother, Akin (Ilkay) Gonulsen of Turkey.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one daughter, Katherine Gonulsen, five brothers and one sister.

Memorial Gathering: 4 – 7 pm, Friday, July 9, 2021 at Staab Funeral Home – Springfield.

Memorial Service: 11:00 am, Saturday, July 10, 2021 at Staab Funeral Home – Springfield. Burial will follow at Old Salem Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Aydin Gonulsen Athletic Scholarship by visiting www.giving.uis.edu and searching for Gonulsen.

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