Pierce College Raider fans have a new sport to support: women’s soccer.
The college is fielding a team of about 20 women to compete in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC). Team tryouts will be Aug. 9 and 10.
Practice begins Aug. 12 at the team’s home field, Heritage Recreation Center in Puyallup. Partial-tuition scholarships will be available to 10 team members.
Women’s soccer will be among Pierce College’s seven intercollegiate sports, which already include men’s soccer.
The Raider women will have a strong coaching team to kick off their inaugural season. Their head coach is Luke Helling-Christy,head coach of the Bonney Lake High School boys soccer team and girls soccerteam. The boys were this year’s state 3A champions, and Helling-Christy was named the state 3A Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
Randy Jones, assistant coach for the Bonney Lake boys and girls soccer teams, will join Helling-Christy as assistant soccer coach at Pierce College.
“There are so many talented (high school) players coming out of the Pierce County area,” Helling-Christy said. “I look forward to the opportunity to retain the talent in the area and advance it in the league. The ultimate goal is to win conference championships.”
Helling-Christy, 34, plans to continue coaching the two Bonney Lake teams this year, along with the Raider women’s soccer team.
Though the Bonney Lake girls and Pierce women’s teams both play in the late summer-fall season, the practices are at different times and matches are on different days. “It’s going to be a little crazy for me; I think I’ll be the only one affected by that,” Helling-Christy said. “It should be positive for Bonney Lake and Pierce College.”
Pierce College Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson, who’s been trying to bring women’s soccer to Pierce for years, was more than happy to comply when student government leaders asked him to start the program this year.
“It’s the largest-growth sport team in the conference over the last 15 years,” Stevenson said. “It’s really blossomed.”
Launching a soccer program at Pierce College is already enticing student Mollee Goertz to spend a second year at the Fort Steilacoom campus in Lakewood. A soccer player since she was 5 years old, the forward and midfielder played for Curtis Junior High and Curtis High schools in University Place. She missed playing the game when she attended Pierce last year.
“I have a bunch of friends who played for TCC (Tacoma Community College),” said Goertz, 19. “I thought about transferring there just to play soccer. Then I a saw a table that said ‘women’s soccer,’ and thought ‘I can stay here.’”
Now she’s recruiting players to compete for Pierce.
Pierce College Women’s Soccer Open tryouts
Aug. 9, Friday, and Aug. 10, Saturday, – 8 a.m. to noon
Heritage Recreation Center, 9010 – 128th St., Puyallup
Next to Rogers High School
Players must attend Pierce College full time, taking 12 or more credits.