Kicking off new era

The 2003 fall semester will bring with it the first ever Sam Houston State University women’s soccer team. The sport has been added to the university’s other 13 collegiate sports, and will take the field for the very first time next August.

Head coach Marcia Oliviera is, as you might expect, very excited about the team’s freshman season. However, she will only have two weeks to put the team together out on the field.

“I am very excited to see how we will blend together on the field, and we only have a short time to work on things together before the season starts,” Oliviera said.

When Oliviera was signed with the SHSU Athletic Department last June, she had no players at all, however, she is pleased to announce that she now has a full team to put on the field. The official athletic signing date was in April, and Oliviera racked up nine solid players.

However, she has continued to work to build her team, and has brought in enough to make a full squad.

Sam now has 20 athletes committed for the fall, and 15 of those have signed letters of intent. The squad will be made up mainly of freshmen from AAAA schools, but there will be four or five junior college transfers, and two players who have participated on the SHSU club team.

Walk-on tryouts were held in April. Six girls came out to give it a shot, and Oliviera came away with two of the SHSU club teams players to put on the roster. These two are the only players who are currently students at Sam, and they are already working hard, having started strength and conditioning workouts to prepare themselves for the season to come.

Oliviera said she will look to the incoming junior college players to have a big leadership role on the team, as they already have college experience in the sport. However, she also said she looks forward to seeing what each individual player will contribute to the team.

“We have some very good recruits coming in for next fall, and though we don’t expect to jump in and have a winning season, we will be very serious and very competitive,” Oliviera said. “This will be a learning season for us, and we have the chance to look at several very good teams to pick up a few things.”

The squad will, indeed have its work cut out for it. The Bearkats will open their season in Colorado on Aug. 29 and will face the University of Denver, the No. 13 team in the nation. The squad is also scheduled to take on both Oklahoma State and Alabama, both Big 12 teams in its pre-conference season.

“There are a lot of teams that wanted to play us, since we are a startup program, and we wanted a competitive schedule,” Oliviera said. “We wanted to start pretty strong.

“It should give us a look at some different styles, and it will be a good learning experience for the girls,” she said. “I am very excited about the upcoming season. We have gotten to go out and look for the type of players we want for the style of

soccer that we want to play. It will be interesting to see how we blend.”

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