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Here’s how soccer may return to Merced College after 15 years

Merced College administrators are organizing a task force in the Spring 2019 semester to look into bringing back the men’s and women’s soccer programs for the first time in 15 years.
Merced College administrators are organizing a task force in the Spring 2019 semester to look into bringing back the men’s and women’s soccer programs for the first time in 15 years. Fresno Bee file

Merced College administrators are organizing a task force to look into bringing back the men’s and women’s soccer programs, according to a news release.

The “Soccer Program Task Force” will consist of students, faculty, administration, classified professionals and community members, the release states. The group is expected to meet in the Spring term to discuss how to reinstate the competitive soccer programs.

The men’s soccer program was shut down in the late 1990s due to staffing issues with coaches, college spokesperson Sean Lynch said. The women’s program ended in 2003 due to lack of participation.

But student enthusiasm for soccer is high, according to the release. Several years of college survey data indicate many students had a strong interest in participating in competitive soccer.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Merced College student Allison Melander states in the news release. “I know the whole campus really enjoys it, especially in this community.”

The focus will be on exploring the feasibility of adding the two programs and developing a plan on how to create them.

Merced College currently has 12 sports teams including football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s track & field, men’s and women’s water polo and men’s and women’s swimming.

The last time a sport was added at Merced College was women’s water polo in 1994.

“We want to do it right and that’s including all the relevant considerations needed,” said Merced College athletic director Steve Cassady. “It’s more than just putting a team on the field. You have to look into facilities, trainer time and staff time.”

If the task force does decide in favor of adding men’s and women’s soccer, time would be needed to hire staff, scheduling and recruiting.

The addition of soccer at Merced College would give an area that is rich in soccer talent another local option for future college players. Last year alone three area boys teams played for Sac-Joaquin Section titles in Le Gran,d Livingston and Pacheco, with Le Grand going on to win the first Northern California Regional championship in school history.

Last year six area boys and girls high school soccer players signed with four-year schools.

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