Eastern to Add Men’s and Women’s Soccer to Athletics Program
Eastern Oklahoma State College will add men’s and women’s soccer to its athletics program beginning next year. Irving Peralta has been named the program’s first head coach.
Eastern will become the third community college in Oklahoma to sponsor soccer, joining Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa. Peralta said two additional Oklahoma community colleges may also be adding soccer programs next year.
“We all know that soccer is the biggest sport in the world. It may not be as popular in the U.S. yet, but soccer is growing and it’s not going to stop,” Peralta said. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead Eastern’s first soccer program. In this first year, we definitely want to be competitive. But most of all, I want students to have a great experience both on the soccer field and in the classroom.”
Peralta, who is originally from Tulsa, played soccer at NOC from 2006-08 and helped lead his team to the NJCAA National Tournament. He played Division I soccer at Oral Roberts University for two years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education. Peralta returned to NOC to begin his coaching career in 2011, serving as co-head coach for men’s and women’s soccer for three seasons. During that time, he helped lead the women’s team to its first National Tournament appearance in the history of the program.
Greg Warren, Eastern’s athletic director and dean of students, said the college has been interested in adding a new athletic program for several years, but wanted a sport that was cost effective and a good fit.
“We have existing facilities in place that make the addition of a soccer program an achievable option,” Warren said. “We’ll begin work soon to convert the former football field into a soccer field.”
Both soccer teams will begin competition during the 2014-15 academic year with the season likely running from August through October.
The addition of soccer brings the total number of competitive Eastern sports teams to six. Eastern currently competes in men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball as part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
“Athletics play an important role in a creating a vibrant campus life,” Warren said. “The addition of men’s and women’s soccer teams will increase the number of students on campus and provide opportunities for the community to enjoy more diverse sports.”
Scholarships will be available for both the men’s and women’s teams. Peralta is currently recruiting players from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. He also hopes to recruit international student athletes.
“We’re a new program, so students are asking a lot of questions. In this area, McAlester Public Schools just added soccer and that gives me a local recruiting base. Those students will now have the opportunity to play soccer at the collegiate level closer to their hometowns,” Peralta said. “I’m excited to see more soccer teams in southeastern Oklahoma.”
Peralta’s wife, Tiffany, will assist him in recruiting and coaching. She also played collegiate soccer at Oral Roberts University.