By: RICKY LINDSAY, STAFF REPORTER
The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s soccer programs had a rough year in 2012. The men’s program took the next step in their development, the transition to varsity level, but finished with a 1-12-1 record. There was no women’s club team, as there weren’t enough players to participate.
However, hope for future success is well and alive with the oncoming name change from Wolves to Wolverines this fall.
“I am hoping it will help with recruiting, which will impact the level of play the team can play,” said Mike Hatfield, the head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs. “Anytime you can talk to players about being even more associated with the Michigan (Ann Arbor) Wolverines, it’s a positive point.”
According to Hatfield, both the men and women’s programs have recruited well in the past. “Even as club teams, the team always drew in high level players. The school is cost effective, the degree is a great degree to achieve, the campus is located by metro Detroit and is almost an hour drive away [from] some very big soccer communities.”
Along with the name change, the new presence of dorms have played and will continue to play a factor in recruiting players.
“Anytime you make a sport a varsity team and open up the distance of your recruiting area, it would draw in more recruits,” said Hatfield. “The dorms mean I can recruit players that live more than an hour away and even out of state.”
Recruiting is the hot topic with Hatfield regarding the name change to the Wolverines. He thinks the name change “solidifies the programs more, therefore drawing in higher level players.”
The women’s club team, which didn’t participate last season due to a lack of players, now has the ability to recruit and improve as a program. Hatfield added that the program could eventually become a varsity sport, joining the men’s program with that honor.
Hatfield stated that he doesn’t know the details of the name change and what it could entail, whether it be new uniforms, gear, or equipment. He did acknowledge the support of the athletic department regarding the soccer programs throughout this exciting situation.
“Our athletic department is very supportive to the soccer programs and always have (been),” said Hatfield.
As with most coaches, Hatfield is also looking forward to the name change. He did, however, embrace the Wolves name during its tenure.
“I really enjoyed the name Wolves because it was our name, our identity. But we are excited to be even closer to one of the world’s greatest athletic programs of all time.”