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David Stair and Brenton Illum
Dr. David Stair (left), athletics director for Evangel University from 1982 to 2014, and Brenton Illum, interim athletics director, jointly announced the addition of men's and women's soccer beginning with the 2015 season.

Evangel University (AG) in Springfield, Missouri, has announced the addition of men's and women's soccer to its intercollegiate athletic offerings, beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

This will be the first time the university has offered women's soccer and the first time to offer men's soccer since the 1974 season. 

"We are really excited about being able to meet this need," said Brenton Illum, interim director of athletics. "We have prospective students and passionate alumni who have been asking for this for years."

Illum said that there are many student athletes who want to study at Evangel, but who also want the opportunity to play college soccer and be a part of the team dynamic. "Adding men's and women's soccer allows us to meet that growing need," Illum said.

Evangel, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), will hire a full-time soccer coach this fall. The coach will spend the year recruiting, purchasing equipment, and connecting to alumni, partners and conference personnel. In June 2015, a second coach will be hired in preparation for the launching of the fall 2015 men's and women's soccer seasons.

According to Evangel President Carol Taylor, "The addition of soccer responds to a need in athletics to serve a broader group of student athletes. This is aligned with our university goals of providing quality academic and student programs and growing our enrollment.

"Our athletics program provides a rich opportunity to develop scholar athletes who value self-discipline, teamwork, and both personal and team excellence in a university environment that is committed to the integration of Christ-centered learning, living and service," she said.

Dr. Grant Jones, professor of psychology at Evangel, grew up as the son of missionaries in Senegal and Nigeria. Soccer drew him to Evangel in 1973, and the team experience helped him assimilate into the American culture and the Evangel family.

"As a person who was on the last EU soccer team and who is at Evangel today due to this, I am thrilled that it is returning," he said. "I can't wait to see its impact on the lives of men and women who will be blessed by this opportunity."

The previous Evangel men's soccer team, which started in 1967 as an intercollegiate sport, went 51-27-9 in eight seasons, achieved a NAIA national ranking of #20 in 1972, and its best overall record was 11-3-1 in 1973.

With the additions of men's and women's soccer, that brings Evangel to 17 sports offered within their athletics program. Evangel will play home matches at the Lake Country Soccer Complex in Springfield.

For more information about soccer at Evangel, contact Illum at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7825.

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