For my final reading blog post in this course, I chose to write about Jesse Wood’s “App State’s Rich Soccer Tradition.” Wood uncovers the history of the Appalachian State men’s soccer program, one that rose to prominence in the 70s and into the 80s.
“Today, some fear that this history will be forgotten, or worse, the program will cease to exist.” (Wood 2015)
This quote comes from the opening page of Wood’s article, as he acknowledged the worries that fans had about App State soccer and its decline back in 2015. Unfortunately, their fears for the program’s fate would become reality when App State men’s soccer was ultimately cut in 2020. Though its demise was primarily due to COVID-19, the end of the soccer program had been built up to ever since the reduction of its support, in order for the university to increasingly invest in sports such as football and basketball.
“Thompson could have played professionally in the Premiere League, but he chose to go to college because he wanted an education.” (Wood 2015)
While Thompson Usiyan’s decorated resume proved that he was indeed one of the most incredible athletes to ever come across the High Country, the options that he had before ultimately choosing to play for App State teased at Usiyan’s potential from the very beginning. Usiyan could have decided to play for a professional team in Europe that was seeking his talent. Instead, perhaps it was seen as a miracle that he decided to come play for a small town like Boone.
“I think ASU had a goldmine and they wasted it.” (Wood 2015)
This is a quote that comes from former App State soccer coach Hank Steinbrecher, who left the program right at the time when the university was beginning to turn away from soccer. Steinbrecher’s confusion over the lack of support for soccer was warranted, as the university’s decision to shift their investments elsewhere came a time when the soccer team was dominating conference play and, as Steinbrecher himself explained, came at a time when soccer was “outdrawing the football team.” Considering the success the Mountaineers saw over the course of two decades, I agree with the former coach’s belief that the university had a gem in soccer and lost a grand opportunity by deciding to forfeit that strong support for the club.
I was really pleased to dig up the history of App State’s soccer program. When it was cut back in 2020, I felt a little bummed at the fact that the university lost a sport. But by now understanding what preceded 2020, I now know that we lost more than just a sport. Upon further research, I also found out that the program’s disbandment led to the creation of Appalachian FC; so that was a nice little fact of the week. Overall, this article was a great way to close out the course, as it shows that App State is more than just a football school.