By Ruby Arani/GCU Staff
The Grand Canyon University club soccer program is one of the fastest growing club sports in the nation. With the 2017 season right around the corner, GCU club soccer is expected to see participation sky rocket.
Lance Thompson, head coach of GCU men’s club soccer, explained that nearly 600 incoming and returning students are interested in being part of the GCU club soccer program. That is a tremendous increase from the 80 students who participated in club soccer in the 2016 season.
“Last season has given the club soccer program more credibility,” said Thompson. “Students see how great this program is and want to be part of it. We provide students [the opportunity to] not only play soccer at a competitive level, but also provide the opportunity for students to grow and develop as a person and a leader. And that’s why I believe we are seeing a growth of interest for the club soccer side.”
Victoria Roel, a senior majoring in athletic training, has been a part of the GCU women’s club program for two years and is the club president for the upcoming season.
“I joined club soccer because I missed playing at the collegiate level,” said Roel. “I didn’t want all the pressure of a DI/DII program, but one that would be competitive, fun and not stressful. I felt like club soccer was a good choice.”
With such high interest of playing club soccer, what does that mean for the program?
In order to accommodate this high volume of students, the GCU club soccer program has designed an in-house league which act like an academy program. The club soccer program will create a variety of teams to compete. The 12-week season will be broken into a nine week regular season play and a three week single elimination tournament to declare the GCU men and women club soccer in-house league champions. The teams will consist of 15 to 20 students. This in-house league system will provide the opportunity for all students to play and be a part of a competitive team.
This will be a new and huge development for the club soccer program. The in-house leagues will also help Lance Thompson and Erin Reinke, women’s club soccer head coach, to evaluate top players to compete on the travel team. The travel team will compete in the Southwest Conference of the West Coast Soccer Alliance playing up to 20 games in both the fall and spring. Each travel team will have up to 20 players maximum as well as alternatives to compete.
GCU club soccer will meet and begin practices on August 28 to determine travel teams for the season’s first game which will be on August 31 in Henderson, Nevada.
The 2017 season is expected to be a testament to the growth and development of GCU club soccer program.