KICKIN’ IT — High school soccer was introduced at KMS in 2015. Now IUK will call the stadium home for its recently-announced women’s program.
Herald Photo / File
KICKIN’ IT — High school soccer was introduced at KMS in 2015. Now IUK will call the stadium home for its recently-announced women’s program. Herald Photo / File

Last week, IU Kokomo Athletic Director Greg Cooper announced that women’s soccer is the next sport to be added to the Cougar’s line up of athletic teams. The inaugural season is planned for August 2019 with Kokomo Municipal Stadium being the home of the Cougars.

Cooper said there were three main factors in deciding which sport to add to the university’s expanding athletic programs. One, competition. Two, facilities. Three, making an impact on campus.

“The bottom line is that it came down to the competition in the area and facilities, competition being what other colleges are sponsoring the sport in our conference, let alone in our area,” he said. “Obviously, facilities in the Kokomo community play a big role.”

There are currently 10 women’s soccer teams in the River States Conference.

In addition to established competition, utilizing Kokomo Municipal Stadium for the home games in the fall will provide a stadium with vast amenities and offer playing alternatives in case of poor weather.

“At Municipal, we have covered seating, an enclosed pressbox. We can play in all weather except lightning,” Cooper said. “Some may want to come here instead of their field so there will be less missed class time and travel.”

Utilizing the amenities that exist at the stadium, like covered seating, the concession stands, and the turf surface were all pleasing factors for IU Kokomo. 

“[Municipal Stadium is] great for recruiting. It’s great for spectators. It’s great for promoting the city as well. It’s a great partnership. Every time we bring a college team into town or when we bring a potential recruit, they’ll see the primary design was baseball. But when they see the Mantis come back this summer, they’ll see soccer was thought of when they built the stadium,” he said.

Cooper said consideration on what sport would have the biggest impact on campus as well and in keeping with IU Kokomo’s desire to encourage more diversity on campus, adding soccer will allow students to come to Kokomo that otherwise wouldn’t come here.

“It’s an opportunity for our local players to continue at the collegiate level and also will attract high-quality students from around the country and internationally, who want to earn an IU degree,” he said.

“It’s impacting the city, and it is, ‘Wow. This is what I get to call home.’ It’s the full package. The overall amenities are hard to beat,” Cooper said. “We get to take over the facility. It is truly ours.”

Cooper plans to have the first women’s soccer coach hired by Sept. 1, 2018, in order to have a full year to recruit around 30 athletes for the program. The women’s soccer team is the seventh women’s sport for the university (joining cross country, volleyball, tennis, basketball, golf, and track) to accompany the five men’s sports of cross country, basketball, golf, baseball, and track.