Fans of soccer now have a local collegiate team to cheer on. Murray State College is adding women’s and men’s soccer to the Aggie athletics line-up for the fall 2014 season. The teams will be based out of the Ardmore campus. The move to add the sport was a few years in the making.
“The idea started as a discussion among some of the two-year college presidents,” says Murray State College President Joy McDaniel. “There was a desire to start a soccer program, but we wanted to make sure there would be colleges within our area to play to decrease the travel distance.”
Next fall, there will be five colleges competing in soccer in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 2. Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa and Northeastern Oklahoma A & M already have soccer programs in place. Rose State College and Eastern Oklahoma State College join MSC in debuting programs in the upcoming fall season. Murray State College will compete in the NJCAA Division III.
“Paris Junior College has a soccer program, and there are also several colleges in the Dallas area we can play,” says Athletic Director Zach Crabtree. “So we are able to get a good schedule without a lot of long bus rides. In addition, there are a couple more Oklahoma colleges that could be adding soccer in the few years.”
Taking over as head coach for both the women’s and men’s soccer teams is Shane Ross. A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Ross came to Oklahoma to play college level soccer. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Northeastern State University where he was a member and graduate assistant of the varsity soccer team. An Ardmore business-owner, Ross now lives in Ardmore with his wife Sarah and their two children.
“This has been a goal of mine for a long time,” says Ross. “I’m very excited for the community of Ardmore and for this opportunity. I look forward to meeting all of our local supporters.”
The name of the game now is building the team, and Ross is working hard to recruit players. Crabtree says the soccer program will bring anywhere from fifty to sixty student-athletes to Murray State College. He says Ross’s experience and connections as a former player and coach will help recruit the right students.
“The success of the golf program and Coach Al Smith certainly shows us that we can support an athletic program based in Ardmore,” says McDaniel. “The soccer program will draw students from around the area, and maybe up from Dallas, and will attract a group of students that we haven’t reached before. By diversifying our athletic offerings, we are diversifying our campuses. And that benefits everyone.”
The first game for the new Murray State College soccer teams is scheduled for late August. The season runs through October. Recruitment information is up on the Murray State College website now. The schedules will be online as soon as they are finalized.