UTSA kicks off women’s soccer


     At about ten minutes until 6 p.m. Friday night, UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey flipped the coin to signal the histroic opening of Roadrunner women’s soccer.

     With 1,473 Roadrunner fans in attendance, Hickey had reason to be proud.

     ”This is a great event and a great evening,” Hickey said. “To see this kind of turnout is outstanding.”

     The hiring of coach Steve Ballard on January 31, 2005 put a face to the new program.

     Ballard comes to UTSA as one of the most successful coaches in Division I history, amassing more than 25 years of coaching experience. Ballard is ranked in the top 40 among active Division I coaches in career victories.

     Ballard came to UTSA from Eastern Illinois, a program he started in 1995 and led to four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division I College Cup in 2001-2004. Ballard knows the challenge of starting a new program.

    ”We have focused on three parts of the game the last 15 months. Recruiting, recruiting, and recruiting,” Ballard said.

     Starting a program from scratch provides a different kind of challenge, especially at the Division I level.

    ”It is [more of a challenge than the other women’s programs he has coached at] because it’s so much more competitive. There are over 300 Division I women’s programs,” Ballard said.

    Ballard does not feel that his past successes mean he has to win right away because he feels that both he and his assistant coach Kristin Boeker are highly motivated to be successful.

    ”We want the girls to be #1 on the field and in the classroom,” Ballard said.

    The Runners started practicing on Aug. 8 to get ready for their exhibition opener, a 3-0 loss to the Texas Longhorns on August 18. The Runners’ roster currently stands at 28, and only three are not freshmen.

    Coach Ballard felt it was important to schedule tough opponents right away.

    ”I didn’t feel we would get better unless we played competitive teams. We gotta be quick learners. We want the challenge, and our goal is to play in the NCAA tournament,” Ballard said.

    The Runners will travel to Waco to play Baylor Sept. 15. The Runners begin conference play Sept. 27, hosting I-35 rival Texas State.

    The Runners host Prairie View A&M Wednesday at 7 p.m.