This is the first state of the program write-ups. I am starting with Soccer, and will move according to season with the Football being last. I judge programs state on a rating of 1-5.
1-Rebuilding needed ASAP.
4-Good and Solid team
5-National Elite or power.
Ok, first up……….
Texas A&M-Commerce Lions Soccer
Complex: Lion Soccer Complex
Coach:Neil Piper (16 Seasons)
Alma Mater: Penn State, (91-93) Wichita State University, 1996, Education
Most Successful Team: 2008, 16-4-3, NCAA Division II Regional Finalists
Post Season Appearances: 15
NCAA National Tournament Appearances: 5
Overall Opining-If you were you to look at all of the sports ever since 1996 when we became Texas A&M-Commerce, there is only one other sport that is in the same ball park of consistency and winning, and that would be this group. This program is one of the best not just in the conference, but in the entire Region and many times, the nation. We have had some good soccer teams at TAMUC and it is just a matter of when, not if, winning a national championship in this sport. It all starts with the top.
Neil Piper is one of those guys who is not that well known on campus. He just minds his own business and he wins. He is totally focused on the success of the team, the program, and his players. My last semester as an undergraduate in Commerce, I played intrascholastic racquetball and Coach Piper was my Coach. I was a terrible player when I started, but Coach Piper taught me technique and demanded that I listen and commit myself to learning to be a better player. I was not a rockstar when I finished, but I was a heck of a lot better when he was finished. It gave me an indication of what he does as a Soccer Coach. He recruits smart players and hard workers and gets just about all of them from Dallas. When talking about selling the program, you have a lot of female soccer players in Dallas that may be right on the line of being Division I talent, but may only be getting interest from DI schools that either far away or not very good programs. Commerce is an easy sell. Less than an hour for most of the recruits, and a program that has always been good. Piper is the definition of a good coach, focused, intense, smart, well-versed, and dead serious about the success of his program.
The Soccer team is also the team that gets the most excitement from the student body because of how they win and how they players are involved in the community and in school. They get support from the entire school and it is not just because they win, but how they are off of the field as well. The facilities are pretty top notch. Every year or so there is some kind of improvement to the facility. In the past 5 years the field has gotten lights so that not every game has to be played on a Sunday or Saturday Afternoon, and the lights are high quality. The scoreboard that used to be the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium from 2006-2009 was moved to the pitch and is being used. Not many pitches have a digital scoreboard. Last year, the entire pitch got resodded, which is not cheap, but AD Ryan Ivey said how it was important to him that not only he support the program’s current excellence, but that he gets them to the next level, which would be perennial national power, and it is just a matter of when, not if. When you take a look at how much success this program has had in just 19 seasons, that is something you just have to buy into, and the team, the school, and the community all have.
Program State: 4