Casper College will field soccer teams for the first time in school history starting in the fall of 2020. Discussions to add the sport continued from late 2018 through 2019, when the school announced the move this past June. On Friday the school took its next momentous step forward by announcing the first two head coaches in Thunderbirds soccer history.
Ben McArthur and Ammon Bennett were announced as men’s and women’s soccer coaches, respectively, in a release.
McArthur comes to Casper after just one season as men’s soccer coach at Northwest College. The Trappers went 7-8-1 in McArthur’s only season at the helm, including a 5-8 record in NJCAA Region IX. Casper College vice president of student services Kim Byrd spoke highly of McArthur. Northwest athletic director Brian Erickson described McArthur as a man of “high character” throughout conversations.
“Ben has a lot of energy and drive to get started on developing our men’s program,” Byrd said.
Previous to his time at Northwest, McArthur was the men’s soccer coach at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, for five seasons after serving as an assistant coach at Waldorf College.
“I am bringing dedication, hard work, and experience with a desire to be great to help build the Casper College men’s soccer program,” McArthur stated. “With almost a decade worth of college coaching experience I have a firm understanding of how to coach and manage college-age young men.”
Byrd stated that McArthur was hired in late December and began recruiting at the Cowboy Turf Wars indoor soccer tournament in Laramie last weekend.
Bennett was hired to lead the T-Birds’ first women’s soccer team after five seasons at Utah State Eastern and three seasons at Iowa Lakes Community College. He coached both men’s and women’s teams during both of those stints. Previous to both of those tenures he coached the Iowa Western Community College women’s team to consecutive runner-up finishes at the NJCAA National Championships in 2006-07.
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“During the interview and hiring process I enjoyed Ammon’s sense of humor and lightheartedness,” Byrd said. “I believe he will be a joy for all to work with.”
Illinois soccer coach Brad Silvey played for and went on to coach with Bennett. Silvey told Byrd of Bennett’s successes building programs and that he believed the same would happen at Casper College.
Bennett shared the first steps in building that program.
“I try to instill in my athletes a real-life approach,” he said. “I don’t believe that these experiences while in school just involve being a soccer player. ... I want them actively engaged in Casper College and being a part of the social network. I believe that this idea will help set a strong foundation for a successful life after athletics.”
Recruiting for both coaches to fill their 24-person rosters has already begun. Assistant coach positions will be posted in February with the intention of both being filled by March 1, Byrd stated.
The Thunderbirds will compete in Region IX, as they do in volleyball and basketball. Casper College is the latest addition to the region after Central Wyoming College added men’s and women’s soccer last season. The Rustler men went 1-13-1 and the women were 1-14, respectively, in their inaugural seasons. Laramie County Community College men’s and women’s teams, as well as the Gillette College women’s team, all advanced into the NJCAA National Tournament this past fall.
“I am anxious to see and feel the excitement of adding another collegiate sport to Casper College,” Byrd said. “It will be a fun fall semester.”
The T-Birds begin competition in August.
Casper College previously offered only men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and rodeo.
Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans