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Almost 100 high school soccer players from Utah, Arizona and Nevada showed up on the USU Eastern campus on Wednesday, March 5, to officially start the first intercollegiate men’s and women’s soccer program.
Newly named head coach Ammon Bennett met the prospective players, many of whom brought their parents to “Soccer Day” on the Price campus. He said getting students to USU Eastern will not be the problem, getting the right athletes is what I want to do here. “In Iowa where I came from, we would pick up 25 student athletes each year from Utah schools to play soccer for me. This is a great state for great soccer players. “
Bennett has been on campus since February and has been in Utah, Arizona and Nevada recruiting. He sent out e-mails to all the coaches in the state, but thinks most of the students who showed up was via word of mouth. “These students want to jump from playing soccer in high school to playing soccer in college.”
A proven winner, Bennett has been to the national tournament twice where his teams placed second. He has high expectations of the program at USUE and plans to create winning programs for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
He said he plans to have 25 athletes on each team by fall semester 2014. “I don’t believe in bringing a bunch of athletes in and cutting them midway through the season.”
The first “Soccer Day” began with Associate Vice Chancellor of Price Campus Operations, Alex Herzog, welcoming the overflowing crowd of students and parents to the school. “Being a student athlete is tough. There will be travel, early practices and late study nights to just to keep up. It takes someone special, someone tough . . . just like who we are at USU Eastern . . . just like Gibby, our rock, tough . . . like the miners that built this town, tough.
“The one thing I can say about USU Eastern is that our faculty and staff care and have a vested interest in your success. “
The Director of Enrollment Services, Kristian Olsen, spoke to the students and was excited to see all the prospective students visit campus. “This has been a long time coming and brings such value to campus. The best part about adding a soccer program to our athletic program is soccer players are usually good students and good athletes. They define what a good student athlete is.”
Wade Arave, an enrollment services admissions adviser, added, “It is exciting to have so many come out to kick off the new program. With numbers like this, it indicates some great growth for soccer at USU Eastern.”
The students were treated to lunch by USUE and then Coach Bennett held a two-hour tryout on the soccer field.