Soccer to benefit from World Cup buzz, new Williams Center

The Williams Family Soccer and Olympic Sports Center, approved as a philanthropic gift from Billy and Elaine Williams in October 2013, is now finishing construction after two years. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

With the U.S. Women’s National Team capturing the Women’s World Cup this summer, women’s soccer has been in the spotlight a great deal in this country. Stars like Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd are becoming increasingly popular in today’s sports landscape for their great performances on the pitch. That spotlight can only create positive buzz for soccer around the nation and Waco.

The winning of the women’s world cup fittingly coincides with the opening of one of Baylor’s new sports facilities this season. The Williams Family Soccer and Olympic Sports Center, a $3.3 million facility opens this fall as the Bears begin their season.

While the soccer craze in America tended to only last for a few months during the country’s participation in the Men’s and Women’s World Cups, lately, Americans have shown a growing interest in the sport, with game attendance number increasing year by year. That new interest, combined with the Williams Family facilities, has increased the image and interest in women’s soccer nationwide and at Baylor in general.

“We’re blessed with what we have to help us keep up with what’s going on in the soccer world and the money that’s being put into college soccer, college women’s soccer especially,” BU head coach Paul Jobson said. “[The facility] is a huge piece in keeping us up with some of the top programs in the country.”

“I think now that we have some of the best facilities in the country, it does help with recruiting, especially going along with McLane stadium and the new track and field facility.”

The draw of a new stadium and state of the art facilities helped the Lady Bears catch the attention of several recruits, bringing in a good size class. The 2015 recruiting class consists of 13 players, double that of the 2014 class, and Jobson believes that this athletic bunch will greatly help the program.

“They’re a very athletic and fast class … which are the type of kids we like in our system,” Jobson said. “We are a fast and athletic program. We move the ball fast, we’re an athletic team, we’re a physical team and we are going to put pressure on your back.”

Since the Women’s World Cup was first played in 1991, the U.S. has won three times and has never finished lower than third place. The dominance continues to the Olympics, where women’s soccer has been played since 1996 and America has won four of five possible gold medals. Clearly America is the dominant country in women’s soccer, which has led to higher viewings than ever before.

With the success of the USWNT carrying over to the youth and lower levels of women’s soccer, it only strengthens the fan base and excitement for women’s soccer at Baylor. Seeing successful teams also allow young people to strive to succeed in a sports atmosphere and become involved either as a fan or a player.

“Girls are going to come on to our campus and fall in love with that piece [Williams Family facility] as well as all the other pieces we have to offer with our program,” Marci Jobson, assistant and wife to head coach Paul Jobson, said.

With the triumphant performance of the national team, the participation and attendance numbers for soccer players and fans will could see an increase.

“We are very excited about the future of Baylor Soccer under the Jobsons’ leadership, and this state-of-the-art facility will afford the program first-class space and amenities,” Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said.

The Bears are in action at 7 p.m. tonight at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field against the Michigan State Spartans. The Bears look to capture their first conference title since 2012.