UWA launches soccer program Sept. 2

Published 8:25 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Graeme Orr is in unchartered waters.

But that’s okay. He’s got plenty of company. So is his employer. And his players. And most of his assistants.

The Scotsman was hired last year to lead the University of West Alabama’s inaugural soccer team on the field. He’ll do just that Sept. 2 when the Lady Tigers host Judson College.

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Orr, native of Eaglesham, Scotland, served as a head coach for the Alabama Olympic Development Program and was an assistant coach at the University of North Alabama for two seasons where he helped orchestrate the turnaround of that school’s program.

He’ll be drawing on that experience this season as he tries to bake UWA’s program from scratch.

“We had eight wins the first year I was there,” he said of his first year with the Lions. “The second year we had 19 wins.”

Those 19 wins earned the 27 year old graduate of Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. the opportunity to create the ladies soccer program for the UWA Tigers.

“I think my age may be an advantage,” Orr laughed of the project before him and his team. “It’s taken a lot of work and you have to put a lot into it.”

The fruits of that labor will hit the field next month as 25 young ladies from as far away as England and Australia will join sisters from around the United States on UWA’s football/soccer field.

Their work is clearly cut out for them.

“The conference (soccer) rankings came out this week and we were last,” he said. “We’re a first year program, sure, but last?”

Orr’s goals for his first year are high. We wants to win games. He expects to win games and, most of all, he expects the plant seed that he thinks will grow into a solid footing for seasons to come.

“One of the things we want to do is work with the River City Soccer Club in Demopolis,” he said.

Orr said a relationship between the River City league and UWA would be important as those youth players matured and moved onto high school, who then would become potential recruits for the UWA team.

“I would love to be able to recruit players from right here,” he said. “We’ve just got to build that relationship.”

Another key in the program’s success would be community perception and involvement.

Orr has already began several initiatives to educate local little league soccer coaches and parents on the rules and finer points of soccer.

“A lot of what I hear from parents is that, ‘ I like soccer but I don’t understand the rules,” he said. “Well, that’s how I feel about football. What I want to do is educate the parents about soccer so they get interested in it and can get their children interested in it, or so they can better understand it when their children are playing.”

Orr is also hoping the time and effort he and his team put into the community comes back to them in the form of attendance.

The Lady Tigers will play 10 of their 18 games at home and Orr noted the importance of full bleachers as a drawing card for future recruits.

“We’re using the football field, which is exciting,” he said. “No one else has an area-like stadium like that. What I want is to have those seats full of fans so we can take a picture and hang it in my office. Imagine being a recruit and seeing that photo with the stadium full of people. It’s exciting.”