The University of Indianapolis men’s soccer team will add a reserve squad that will include 30 new student athletes, and an addition to the coaching staff, Associate Head Coach Shaun Mahoney.
The new reserve squad will begin its first season this coming fall. As currently planned, the season will include 13 games that will take place every Monday during the first team’s season and on some Saturdays. The reserve squad’s season will include games against other Division II schools with reserve programs, Junior colleges and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools.
The new reserve squad will allow the Hounds to add more players to the roster and help players gain experience, according to Men’s Soccer Head Coach John Higgins.
“For me, this is a big thing. We can now bring on players that we can see playing for us in a couple of years. With our recruiting model up to this point, it’s been that we need to see them contribute right away as freshmen, because we have such a small first team squad,” Higgins said. “We have 300 kids through UIndy a year in camps. This year based on camps, we would have turned away 299 players and with the addition of the reserve team, we can now bring on 30 more players that have the potential at some point to make it into our first team. It allows us to cast our net a little, just a little bit wider than we have in the past.”
According to Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey, new criteria were added for the Associate Head Coach position that were not usually included.
“At the time, when we were doing the announcement of the position and advertising it, I believe that we put on there that they needed to have Division III recruitment experience,” Willey said. “The reason why is because that is the key to whether or not this works. Normally when we are advertising for positions we are looking for someone with Division I or Division II experience. This is a unique setup where we knew that somebody needed to have these special qualities, and that would be someone that recruits without athletic scholarships, which would include Division 3. So we were looking for a Division III coach who in their mind wanted a different challenge and a different environment.”
As for the recruiting process Higgins said the recruiting process would not be different for the reserve squad recruits except that the recruits for the reserve squad would not be offered athletic scholarships. Mahoney said that recruiting would be similar to the way he has recruited in previous years.
“I’ve been recruiting without athletic scholarships for a long time, and it really comes down to the collegiate soccer experience that this school has to offer, and UIndy can offer a really good one,” Mahoney said. “Recruiting for it is very similar to what I’ve done in the past. You still want top talent and the best players that you can find that are willing to come in and fill those roles.”
Mahoney also mentioned what he thought the new program would add to the Greyhounds’ soccer program.
“I think the reserve squad is providing a great place for players that have the ability to play collegiate soccer at other schools, maybe it’s DIII schools or whatever it might be. But because of the Division II model they’re going to have a better experience, because they’re going to be able to train more throughout the year, have the opportunity to work with the coaching staff. And then ultimately, that reserve squad will produce top role players for us in future years, so that we have some of those guys help win games with the first team and to hopefully take the program from being a top 25 program to being a top 5 program.”
The new program will open new windows for the university’s athletic program in its own unique way, according to Willey. Even though the program will be different, it will still stick to the ways of the other UIndy athletic teams.
All players will be given the same chance during practices for everyone so that instead of being two separate teams both teams will play as one, allowing players from the reserve squad to get a chance to play for the first team according Higgins.
“One of the big keystone parts of our ‘united as one’ is servant leadership, and that involves Coach Mahoney and I working harder than everyone else and setting that example,” Higgins said. “It’s going to be the reserve guys getting the exact same experience that the first team squad gets on and off the field. When they’re ready to make that jump, they can slot right into the first team and nothing changes.”
Currently, recruits have already decided to join the new UIndy program and are already on the way to improving the program, according to Higgins.
“It’s played out so far how we expected it to play out,” Higgins said. “The response has been pretty good, the quality of the players that we’ve brought in is really good and there are certainly two ways of going at this: One way is to make it a pure numbers decision, and you can just bring in 30 more players, and you can improve your budget. But we’ve made it a development decision, a soccer decision, to bring in really high-quality players that can make that jump to the first team. It’s guys that are serious about the game and guys that want to fulfill all their potential and end up playing in a Division II program.”