AWC to start women's soccer program
Arizona Western is adding a new sport to its roster. But it's not adding a new coach.
The school announced Wednesday it will field a women's soccer program starting in the 2013 season, which begins in August. Current men's coach Kenny Dale will pull double duty and helm the women's squad as well.
“There's a lot of things that are duplicated so I should be fine,” Dale said. “Plus the quality of assistants I have right now will really help me a tremendous amount. I'm not that worried about it.”
Athletic director Jerry Smith said unlike Dale — who's been coaching the men's team for the past eight seasons — he had some concerns about his coaching both teams simultaneously.
“I had some concerns about that,” Smith said. “But I talked to him and I talked to (AWC president) Dr. (Glenn) Mayle. We hope to hire him a real good assistant to go with all we got.”
Smith said the groundwork for the program started back in 2008 when surveys were sent out to Yuma and La Paz county high schools asking which sports students would like to see added. The overwhelming answer on the women's side was soccer.
Since that survey, there have been four AWC presidents. Smith said that instability was the main reason it took so long to get the program started.
“Since Dr. Mayle has been here, we've been talking about when can we do it,” Smith said. “And we've been talking to the conference. We made the application to the conference three years ago. But it just didn't seem like the money was there. And one, I didn't want it to do, I didn't want it to hurt any of our programs.”
Dale said he was glad that women's soccer is finally a reality at AWC.
“It is what it is,” Dale said about the length of time it took for the program to come to fruition. “Obviously we run the summer camp and we have some girls in that camp, and my assistant, Jon Gronbach, is the assistant at Gila Ridge. ... I know a lot of women's coaches in the community and I'm excited about looking at their players and bringing them in.”
Dale said there will be an information meeting 7 p.m. Monday at the 3C Building on the AWC campus for all players interested in joining the team. He said there will multiple tryouts in early March, with those dates likely announced Monday.
Women's soccer is nothing new to Dale, who was the women's coach at Cochise College for seven years before becoming the first full-time coach at AWC — which has had men's soccer since 1986.
Dale said most of the team will be made up of Yuma players.
“I don't think initially we need to go beyond Yuma. It's not just this year's graduating class of seniors, but last year and the year before and the year before. So some of these girls are between 18 and, say, 24 who still have their college eligibility. So the first couple years, I don't think we'll have to go far beyond Yuma at all.
“I think we'll be competitive right away. I know there are a lot of great girls playing in Yuma. I've been a high school referee in soccer the last two or three years. I've seen them up close and I know there is a lot of skill out there.”