MIA MI — Groundbreaking for a new soccer complex at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College was held Friday, April 27.
The building will be located between the health science center and the road that runs in front of the NEO Field House and is adjacent to the grass practice field to the east and Red Robertson Field to the north.
It replaces the old Speaker Apartments building, which had been transformed into a home for the soccer teams, but was torn down to make room for new student housing.
The ceremony originally was scheduled to be part of the ninth annual Founders’ Day celebration on April 6, but was rescheduled because of inclement weather.
The new building will be 2,500 square feet and will have locker rooms for the men’s and women’s teams, laundry room, storage area and meeting room.
It is the latest in a series of athletic facility upgrades that includes Robertson Field, the Ivan Crossland Complex, the Glen Wolfe Student Activity Center, Eric Iverson Field and a multi-purpose building that is shared by wrestling and the baseball and softball programs.
“This new facility will be the icing on the cake,” said Lady Norse coach Lisa Bell, a 2003 graduate of NEO. “Other programs don’t have the facilities we already have. They don’t have the atmosphere we have. They definitely don’t have a building they can call their own.”
Bell and John Parrigon launched the NEO soccer programs in 2008.
“It is unbelievable what our programs have added in the 10-year period we have been here,” Parrigon said. “Today keeps that going. Today is the next level.
“I am thrilled with the facilities. I am thrilled that we are going and that we are not going to stand still. We are going to keep moving forward with what we can do and elevate our programs, elevate our college. Today represents a huge step in that direction.”
Originally there were only two soccer programs in Region II — NEO and Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa — but that has expanded to include women’s programs at Eastern, Rose State, Murray, Seminole and Redlands and men’s programs at Eastern, Rose State and Murray.
Murray had been competing on the Division III level, but now has moved up to DI.
The Region II playoffs have been held in Miami the past four years and will continue at least through 2020.
The NEO women have won a Region II championship in 2013, an Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference title and had the Region II player of the year in 2014, posted a top 20 finish nationally in 2015 — when the Lady Norse set a record for most wins in a season (13).
In 2011, the men won their first Region II title, in 2014 had the school’s first double-digit win total (11-8), in 2015 again broke the record for most wins in a season (14) and had its first All-American in Ryan McLaughlin and won back-to-back OCAC titles in 2015 and ’16.