Are you ready for some f√∫tbol?

Posted 12/17/09

Similar to the college's basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams, the newly-created soccer teams will compete at the NJCAA Division I level. Northwest College also offers intercollegiate rodeo.

According to Prestwich, soccer was selected for a …

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Are you ready for some f√∫tbol?


Northwest College to field soccer teams starting fall 2010Northwest College will field intercollegiate men's and women's soccer programs beginning in the fall 2010 season. The decision followed a 4-3 vote by the Northwest College Board of Trustees on Monday night. “We're excited by this opportunity to offer a new program and attract students to the Northwest College campus,” said NWC president Paul Prestwich. “We've talked to the regional coordinator who helps put together schedules. We'll get to work immediately on putting together a schedule, hiring coaches for the program and recruiting student-athletes to participate.”

Similar to the college's basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams, the newly-created soccer teams will compete at the NJCAA Division I level. Northwest College also offers intercollegiate rodeo.

According to Prestwich, soccer was selected for a variety of reasons. The activity is able to be added as both a men's and women's sport to ensure compliance with federal Title IX guidelines. Soccer, Prestwich noted, is also a pastime that is gaining increasing participation and popularity at the high school level across the state.

“Another nice thing is that there are relatively few equipment costs associated with the sport,” Prestwich said.

“Compared to something like baseball or softball, there's very little equipment needed. The start-up costs aren't very high compared to other sports.”

Soccer also has been featured as a club sport on the Northwest College campus for the past three years, according to interim athletic director Dana Young. The transition from club to intercollegiate sport is, therefore, something of a natural progression.

Key to the decision to elevate soccer from a club to a full-fledged intercollegiate sport was the impact the activity is expected to have on the college's overall enrollment. The proposal presented to the NWC Board of Trustees on Monday night forecast the soccer programs would result in a 3 percent full time enrollment increase for the college.

If accurate, the increase would translate into Northwest College receiving an additional $261,555 under the present funding model.

“That's one of the keys,” Prestwich noted. “We need to keep the activity cost-neutral. If we can keep costs down and still attract a fair number of students, everyone wins. The big thing is, we feel having soccer will draw some students to campus that wouldn't otherwise attend Northwest College.”

According to a proposal presented to the NWC Board of Trustees, the soccer programs will target 44 student athletes for next fall (22 per team). Over time, that goal will increase so that each team has a roster in the mid- to upper-20s.

The teams will share a head coach. A separate assistant coach will be assigned to men's and women's teams. All three positions will be classified as part-time.

Northwest College becomes the third Wyoming community college to adopt soccer as an intercollegiate sport. Western Wyoming and Laramie County already field soccer teams. Sheridan College, according to Young, also has plans to field a team in the near future. Central Wyoming, according to the college's athletic department website, offers soccer as a club sport.

Other schools in the region currently fielding soccer programs include North Idaho, Salt Lake Community College, Western Nebraska and Air Force Prep. Similar to the Trapper volleyball and basketball teams, soccer teams at Northwest also would have the option of playing JV squads from nearby four-year schools with soccer programs, as well as traveling all-star teams. The NJCAA also allows games against club teams, such as the one fielded by the University of Wyoming, to count toward a team's win-loss total for the season.

A “typical” junior college soccer schedule contains approximately 15 regular-season games. Unlike the Wyoming high school season, soccer at the NJCAA level is a fall sport.

“Our goal is to try to field a normal schedule,” Prestwich said. “We might fall a bit short the first year, because one of the challenges we'll face is that some of those schools will have already started the scheduling process.”

To accommodate the new Northwest College soccer programs, the college will move forward with long-standing plans to create activity fields on the west side of campus, west of Division St., immediately behind the LDS Church.

“We already planned to put activity fields there,” said Prestwich. “The expansion of Simpson Hall took away a lot of the space we had, so we've been looking at creating fields already.”

According to Young, the school will construct parallel soccer fields in the space north of the LDS church. Work leveling the ground will commence in the spring with the goal of having the fields available for home games in the fall.

“The college I was at most recently had men's and women's soccer,” Prestwich said. “It was very popular, probably the most thriving athletic program. It is a good spectator sport. Our campus had a lot of interest in our soccer teams. That is one of the things that helped influence my decision. If done right, it can be a real positive addition to the campus.”