Rod Campbell is a busy guy. He has a laundry list of job titles, including Centerville Recreation Department Director, Centerville High School head girls soccer coach and body shop owner. A few months ago, Campbell added another title to his resume – Indian Hills Community College head women’s soccer coach.

Indian Hills – Ottumwa will be offering men’s and women’s soccer for the first time ever this fall.

Starting any college sports program from scratch can be hard work and Campbell is finding that out first hand. Campbell is still looking for players to fill his roster with IHCC’s first game just two months away.

“As of now, we’ve signed nine players. I’d like to have at least 13 players,” commented Campbell. “I’m trying to spread the word the best I can.”

This year’s squad will include many local players. As of now, the squad is composed of Liz Gee of Centerville, Katie Johnson of Albia, Haley Hamilton of Chariton, three girls from Ottumwa, two other girls from Chariton and one player from Cedar Rapids.

With the start of the new program, Campbell had the disadvantage of attempting to sign players three months after the official signing period began.

“Colleges officially start signing players Dec. 1. We didn’t get the go-ahead until March. By then, everyone had signed with another school. A lot of players were already gone,” Campbell said. “I contacted some players that I was interested in and they had already signed. It’s been tough to put a team together.”

At one point during his recruiting, Campbell contacted 39 players he was interested in – All 39 had already signed to go elsewhere.

Another aspect of starting a program is purchasing all the equipment needed for the team.

“We ordered uniforms this week. We have to get shoes, shin guards, sport bags and soccer balls. I’d say we’re about 60 percent done as far as getting equipment in. We had to wait until we knew sizes,” commented Campbell.

One advantage Campbell has over many coaches is scouting potential college prospects while roaming the sidelines as the head coach at Centerville High School.

“As we played the high school season, I had the advantage of watching the upcoming players. This year is was too late to sign them but we already have some juniors that are interested in coming next year,” said Campbell.

Coaching at the college level can be much different than coaching at the high school level. College soccer teams work more on technique and strategy while high school teams tend to focus more on fundamentals. But this season might be an exception for the IHCC women.

“When I got into soccer, I wanted to do more technical coaching,” said Campbell. “We have some players who haven’t even played soccer, so it’s a lot like high school with a lot of teaching. Hopefully before too long we’ll start drawing more players when the word gets out that Indian Hills has soccer. Then we can start using more technique instead of fundamentals.”

Campbell believes that having a local college soccer program will benefit local youth soccer programs.

“Before, when there was no soccer for them to play in college, players tended to play softball and volleyball. In a way, I think that hurt soccer here. But now they have a jumping point to college. And I think that can only help because now they see they have a place to go for scholarships and they can work towards that like other sports,” commented Campbell.

Campbell was the catalyst, along with the help of others, that started soccer in Centerville back in 1997.

“The group that are going to be freshmen this year have been playing soccer together since they were 4 years old. It makes you feel good to know you started that way back then and now it’s starting to hit,” Campbell said.

Soccer popularity has been rapidly growing in the Centerville area, with approximately 200 participants in the youth spring league and 200 kids competing in the fall league.

“It took a lot of people to do it, not just one. I loved it and wanted to see it happen. We worked hard and put in some time. We had a lot of coaches that wanted to help make it work. Tino Terrones jumped in, Ethan Tuttle, and you can keep going,” added Campbell.

IHCC’s first practice is scheduled for Aug. 6 with the first game set for Aug. 24.

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