by Kara Petrovic // Spring 2010
UMKC Athletics welcomed 15 new athletes to campus as the first women’s soccer team took the field this fall. Anita Rodriguez was selected as the first head coach of the women’s soccer program in February 2008. Prior to joining UMKC, Rodriguez served on the coaching staff at Kent State University from 2001-07. The women Roos’ inaugural season ended with a 1-17-1 overall record and a 1-8 standing in the Summit League, but Athletic Director Tim Hall says the women showed a strong commitment to the game.
“For the first season, I think it went really well,” Hall says. “You have to remember, everything they did and encountered was new and that there was a first time for everything. There was a new coach, new recruiting and new students. Their first practice was everyone’s first. “Someone once told me ‘If you don’t get want you want, that you get experience.’ Regardless of the wins or losses, we’re moving forward to turn defeats into victories.”
Hall also says a larger fan base attended both the men’s and women’s soccer games this year in part to the new Durwood Soccer Stadium and Recreational Field, which was dedicated last October during homecoming weekend. The project was funded primarily through a $5 million gift from the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation. In addition, UMKC Athletics was awarded Division I certification by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). This news came after a two-year, campus-wide study of the University’s athletic program.
During the study, the NCAA focused on UMKC’s academic and fiscal integrity, governance, rules of compliance, commitment to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship. “We’ve made a lot of strides in the last couple of years,” says Hall. “This certification is important because it signifies that we are continuing in the right direction. Prior to 2007, we were fully certified, but with ‘strategies for improvement’ required by the NCAA. We have now completely implemented those strategies. That is a great feeling.”
UMKC was initially certified in February 2000. The NCAA in 1997 began requiring all Division I schools to complete a full athletics certification process every 10 years. As for talks of a baseball team in 2011, Hall says that addition has been put on hold. “It’s not completely off the table,” Hall says, “but we are focusing our attention in other areas right now.”