Athletics department looks to hire head coach following women’s soccer resignation

November 28, 2016

Hannah Harvey

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     Nicole Ridenour, former head coach of the women’s soccer team, formally resigned on Oct. 31. Ridenour served as head coach for eight years, and effectively started the program.

     UCCS Athletics is looking to hire a new head coach for the women’s soccer team by Jan. 1 following Ridenour’s resignation, according to Nate Gibson, executive director of athletics.

     The department will not disclose the reason why Ridenour resigned, said Gibson. The team was briefed on Ridenour’s resignation by Gibson on Oct. 31.

     A national search for a new head coach is now underway. The department expects to receive over 200 applications by Dec. 1, the priority application deadline, according to Gibson.

     “Most every search I’ve been a part of, we do a national search. We have some good resources from the NCAA (and) coaches associations that we can utilize for the recruitment process,” said Gibson.

     “I’m really confident in the level of applicants we’ll get for this position. We’re going to have a really deep, diverse candidate pool to choose from.”

     While NCAA is not involved in the search process, Gibson said that an ideal candidate will be wellversed in NCAA regulations.

     The search committee consists of Sandee Mott, senior associate athletic director, Alex Koehler, associate athletic director for compliance, Heather Sanders, assistant athletic director for internal operations, Johnnie Keen, head men’s soccer coach and Ricki Rothbauer, head softball coach.

     Members for the committee were chosen because they are familiar with the athletic department’s philosophy and culture, said Gibson. The committee will focus on finding a candidate who exceeds what is expected.

     “We have pretty high standards. If coaches are recruiting high school students that have below a 3.0 (GPA), we take a really hard look at that prospective student athlete,” said Gibson.

     Gibson said his first question to an applicant would concern their commitment to academics since the department’s philosophy revolves around well-rounded student athletes. The main focus is whether or not the coach is able to motivate the scholar athlete, according to Gibson.

     Because UCCS is a Division II athletic institution, a different set of standards are considered in the hiring process. Coaches who fail to win games at a Division I institution will face penalties, but this is not the case at UCCS, according to Gibson.

     “I don’t want someone who thinks that we’re all about winning at all costs; for us, it’s really more about philosophy. It’s about culture. It’s about that life in the balance. It’s that idea where we not only have great athletes, but better students and community members,” said Gibson.

     In 2015, at least 12 search committees were conducted to hire new staff for the expanding athletic program, said Gibson. Four new programs were added to the department last year: baseball, lacrosse and an expanded track and field team.

     “In my time here, athletics has grown and changed dynamically. When I started at UCCS 11 years ago, we only had one fulltime head coach (for men’s and women’s basketball) As we’ve grown and developed, that’s just been the nature of it,” said Gibson.

     This fall, the program expanded from 180 to 370 athletes, meaning that a head coach who also serves as an avid recruiter is important, according to Sandee Mott, senior associate athletic director.

     The team will not be impacted by Ridenour’s absence as her resignation fell during the end of the season, according to Mott, who is currently the main point of contact for players on the women’s soccer team. Because the season is now over, the team members are encouraged to focus on their academic work.

     “We just want to double check and make sure they’re on track,” said Mott.

     Although the department hopes to fill the position by Jan. 1, Mott said that this deadline could be pushed.

     “To be cautiously optimistic, I would say (we will have a coach) by the first day of spring classes,” said Mott.

     As for next season, the department looks forward to encouraging the new head coach to care about the full meaning of what being an athlete entails at UCCS, said Gibson.

     “I want to see somebody who’s going to come in and be on board with the way we do things here and really care about the student athletes’ experience.”