Opening the remodeled Center Building and transforming the Fitness Education Center into Fitness Connection are not the only ways Lane has been updating and innovating the campus. Lane has also been expanding in terms of athletics. This fall, Lane will welcome two new athletic programs — women’s volleyball and men’s soccer.
This will be the first time that Lane has had a men’s soccer program, while volleyball is returning after a long hiatus. Following the ’03 season, the Lane Board of Education came to the difficult conclusion to terminate the volleyball team. Now, Lane brings on both of these programs hoping to increase enrollment and attract more student athletes from the immediate community.
John Galas, the new men’s soccer coach, has a resume full of experience at the professional and collegiate level. His recruiting philosophy is centered around finding skilled local athletes.
“We’re now in a position to be able to provide playing opportunities for local kids that normally would maybe just go to U of O or stop playing, play club or leave the state just to be students,” Galas said. “Now they can be student athletes in their own backyard for a couple years.”
Stephanie Willett, the new women’s volleyball coach, has deep ties to Oregon. She previously coached at Southwestern Community College, but currently resides in New Mexico. By the time she makes her trip back to Oregon this spring, she hopes to have her entire team signed and even host some extra opportunities for local athletes.
“For the girls that are local, we’ll definitely have a bunch of open gyms so they can start playing together, maybe get a spring game going if we have enough,” Willett said.
There are many obstacles that both the men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams are going to have to overcome, but both Galas and Willett are eager to conquer the hardships and make Lane a prominent name in the Northwest Athletic Conference.
“I’m not just recruiting a team so that Lane has a team this season,” Willett said. “I’m recruiting to compete in the Southern Region, to compete in every match we play.”
Apart from competition, another integral aspect of college athletics is academics. As a freshman, a student-athlete must be registered in at least 12 credits and pass no fewer than 10 credits to be eligible to play. This is something that both coaches are aware of, and look to focus on as they lead their student-athletes through the program.
“I’m committed to their [the students’] academic success,” Galas said. “We want to make sure that the guys first and foremost understand that they have to come for school and know that the academic component is very important.”
Both coaches are excited for the future and can’t wait to see each of their teams progress into successful programs. Ultimately, it’s all about the students and assisting them in their development as both students and as athletes.
“It’s not about me,” Galas stated. “It’s not about the coaches, it’s about the players and giving them an opportunity to have success in the classroom through soccer.”