The head coaches for the newly formed men's and women's soccer team at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College have worn a path from one end of the campus mall to the other.

Since the students arrived for classes on Aug. 20, men's coach John Parrigon and women's coach Jess Guitar have seemingly covered every inch of campus hanging posters, shaking hands with students and spreading the word about their new programs.

Last year, campus officials made the decision that the 2007-08 Golden Norse roster would include the two new teams.

The sport's increasing popularity in the region helped play a deciding in role in whether or not the college would offer soccer to students.

"Until this year, we were not able to appeal to those students who wanted to play soccer at the collegiate level," NEO president Dr. Glenn Mayle said. "We are very pleased to be able to attract some of those students to our institution."

During the 2007-08 year, soccer at NEO will be played as a club sport. Parrigon said he has been impressed with the students who have signed on thus far.

"We have a few all state players who have great potential," Parrigon said. "We've definitely got some talent. I think some of these players could become the core of our team next year."

Parrigon and Guitar said they will continually be recruiting for the sport throughout the year. The two plan to be in the stands at high school soccer games and club games throughout the four states. An informational meeting was held on the NEO campus during the first week of classes to recruit from within.

Parrigon is a native to the area, having graduated from McAuley High School in Joplin, Mo. He played soccer for Missouri Southern State University under the direction of Jim Cook and Geoff VanDeusen, where he helped to lead them to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Conference championship in 1997.

The team was also ranked 16th in the nation for Division II schools.

Parrigon earned a bachelor's degree from MSSU and a master's degree from the University of Arkansas. He is also a nationally certified athletic trainer.

Parrigon was the defensive coach for the men's soccer team at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., in 2004-05. In 2006, he joined the Freeman Hospital staff in Joplin as an athletic trainer for their outreach program with area high schools.

In addition to becoming the head men's soccer coach, Parrigon is a physical education instructor at NEO.

Parrigon said he is thrilled with the prospect of being the head coach for a college team.

"I wanted to get my start as a head coach, and to find a soccer program virtually in my backyard was an amazing opportunity for me," he said.

Guitar said she has been a soccer player since the age of six. She was named an all American her junior and senior years at Hudson (Ohio) High School.

Guitar played at the collegiate level for Michigan State in East Lansing, earning the distinction of team captain her senior year.

Since 2004, she has taught at the secondary level in Florida. She was hired as an NEO math instructor in addition to her duties as the head women's soccer coach.

Guitar said she has been anxious to give soccer a prominent place in her life.

"This is something I have wanted to do for a long time," she said. "This was the perfect situation for me to get back into coaching and to teach, as well."

Those who are interested in joining NEO soccer or have questions regarding the teams may contact Kathie Hulsey, secretary for the athletic department, at 540-6327.