A fledgling IUPUC athletics program is set to grow in 2023 with the addition of two more sports.
Athletics director Zach McClellan is looking for coaches to lead the men’s and women’s soccer programs, which will debut next year. Crimson Pride athletics begins with men’s and women’s cross-country this fall and baseball and softball next spring.
“We wanted to see how the recruiting was going for baseball and softball,” McClellan said. “Cross-country was so late in the game, we were going to run with what we have. When we saw the interest in baseball and softball, we thought we could get that with soccer. Columbus is a great soccer community. We have a lot of soccer facilities around town and a lot of knowledgeable people in the community.”
As was the case with cross-country, baseball and softball, McClellan wants to get coaches in place to begin the recruiting process so that they will have athletes in place before they begin competition.
“There’s a process being built here for how we want to scale athletics” McClellan said. “What we’re attempting to do is hire coaches with more time to recruit their teams,. That’s what we did with baseball and softball, and we want to do the same for soccer. The goals is try to interview coaches and allow them to recruit with enough time for the following season.”
IUPUC has agreements to host cross-country meets and baseball and softball games at Ceraland. The Crimson Pride do not yet have a soccer facility nailed down, but are getting close to that.
“There’s a couple we’re investigating,” McClellan said. “We don’t have anything like a Ceraland set up yet, but we’re working with local partners. We have options. We just have to clarify those options.”
Meanwhile, McClellan, who also had been IUPUC’s head baseball coach, announced last week that he is turning over head coaching duties to Scott Bickel. McClellan, a former pro baseball pitcher, will stay on as an assistant and work with the pitching staff.
Bickel, who played at St. Francis and has been an assistant coach at Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne, had been working under McClellan as the IUPUC’s associate head baseball coach.
“He has great rapport with his past players, and he’s extremely knowledgeable about the game of baseball,” McClellan said. “It became clear that we needed somebody that could focus solely on the baseball team. As a former player, I know how important it is to have a head coach who focuses day in and day out on the team. I have been extremely impressed with Coach Bickel to this point, and I know that will only continue.”
The Crimson Pride will have to go through a one-year waiting period in all sports before they are eligible for NAIA championship events. Their first intercollegiate contest is scheduled for Sept. 2, when the cross-country teams run in the IU-Kokomo Cougar Classic.
“If you look at where we’re at six months into this process, we’re in a good place,” McClellan said. “We’re ready to get moving. I think the progression has been solid so far. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re progressing every day.”