Excitement Building for Dalton State Soccer
“Now it’s time for Dalton State to show what it has to offer,” said Missael Fraire, a Dalton State student excited to see the Roadrunners shut out Milligan College, 3-0, in their home opener Tuesday night at Lakeshore Park.
The win took the Roadrunners to a 2-0-1 record giving them an undefeated start on their inaugural season.
“This is a good experience for us and for the community,” Fraire said. “Dalton is a soccer town. We have state championship high school teams, several really good soccer leagues, and now we have it at the collegiate level. It’s something to be excited about.”
The stands were packed Tuesday night, and a few hundred more lined the fence. Approximately 450 were in attendance.
Esther Lovingood, secretary of the Student Government Association, said she hopes to see the crowd grow as the season progresses, and she hopes to see a pep club form to help fire up the crowd and team.
“I’m pumped because this is my favorite sport,” Lovingood said. “It’s amazing to have soccer here. I want people here chanting and yelling and cheering on our Roadrunners. I hope to see the energy build as the season continues.”
Many students feel Dalton State soccer is another sport the community will enjoy and will be able to rally behind.
“Soccer is really big here, and it’s something families go to together and make a day of,” said student Joanna Martinez. “I think it’s something everyone will enjoy. I hope to see even more people at the next game. I think as the season goes on and more people see Dalton State is competitive, even more people will come out to watch.”
Athletic Director Derek Waugh said with minimal student athletic fees, it’s financially tough to add a new program.
“But soccer is very much worth it,” he said. “We drew nearly 600 to a scrimmage and 450 to the home opener. These numbers would lead the NAIA in soccer attendance. I only see it growing from here. Soccer has an enormous impact in Dalton, and with our program, I believe enrollment, retention, and graduation will all increase among our institution’s local constituency. I look forward to seeing the impact that the program will make for the betterment of the entire community.”
Mary Salazar and Ulyses Sanchez stood along the fence watching the game. They came out because they are fans of soccer and wanted to see how well Dalton State plays.
“I think it will be really cool to see the team and the program grow,” said Salazar, who graduated from Dalton State as a registered nurse. “They look like they’re playing really well together. Dalton as a city is a big soccer community, and I’m glad to see a team at this level.”
Interim President, Dr. Margaret Venable, said she knew instantly soccer was going to be good for Dalton State and the community.
“I’m excited to see soccer join the athletic lineup here,” she said. “The enthusiasm for this sport in this community is hard to miss. When I saw the turnout at the first scrimmage game, I knew for certain soccer is a hit for us.”