Central Community College - Columbus is adding a seventh sports team in 2019 with the addition of a women's soccer team.
CCC already sponsors programs in volleyball, men's and women's basketball, softball, golf and men's soccer and will be adding women's soccer in the coming fall.
Though a women's soccer program was always a goal of the athletic department from the time the men were added, the idea really picked up steam in the past 18 months after the instillation of a new home field.
"It's always good to bring excitement to campus and adding women's soccer will be an exciting venture," said CCC athletic director Jack Gutierrez. "We decided to add women's soccer after seeing the success of constructing the on-campus soccer field for the men's team and because of the great recruiting potential in the Columbus, Lincoln and Omaha areas."
Gutierrez and his staff are currently searching for a coach and planning to have one in place before the end of the first semester.
In addition to offering more athletic opportunities, Gutierrez said another athletic program would also help with enrollment.
"Obviously all colleges are looking to enhance enrollment. We'd like to build a third dormitory," he said. "With sports, you bring in full-time students. In soccer, our men's program has 25 to 30 full-time students every year. We're thinking women's might not be quite that much, but it could be 20 to 25 more full-time students on campus. That was a real plus."
The process for exploring and adding a new program included Gutierrez and his staff putting together a presentation for the president of the Central Community College system, Dr. Matt Gotschall, then presenting to the 11-member board of governors.
"Once we get the ball rolling, and we know exactly what we're looking at, we set some timelines," said Gutierrez.
"Our campus bought into it," Gutierrez said. "Once that get's approved, how the financials come into play with salaries for coaches and equipment and officials and travel and all that stuff begins to come to come together. Once that all gets approved by our board of governors, then we really just start moving on it."
When trying to decide what sport to add many areas of concern were discussed.
"We all kind of worked together on what would be a good sport to add," Gutierrez said. "We wanted something with numbers and something that would stay seasonal with the other sports.
"Right now we'll have three sports in the fall, two in the winter and two in the spring. It also means we have four women's sports and three for the men. Hopefully down the road the next couple years we will add a men's sport.
"I'm not really sure what way that will go, but that would be nice. Baseball would be a big numbers sport. That's a huge undertaking getting all that in place. It's quite a process we all kind of brainstorm together"
Now that the coaching search has begun, many other details are being finalized, such as schedule and travel arrangements.
Ideally, if a coach can be hired before Christmas, he or she can be on campus by March to hit the road recruiting full time.
"We have to talk some tentative schedule, looking at how were going to play the first year. Do we keep it soft or do we jump right into our region? We'll probably do a little of both," Gutierrez said. "And then, what are we talking with as far as travel, how that kind of impacts everything?
Most programs that feature a men's and women's team play doubleheaders. That's something to consider along with what kind of vehicle to use whether a charter bus or a series of vans, what sort of compliance needs to be fulfilled and how much support staff does Gutierrez need to hire specific to a women's soccer program.
"That's all kind of a game plan we need to make sure we have in place," Gutierrez said.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com