Soccer has the eye of the world this summer as athletes compete in the FIFA World Cup. Locally, the sport continues to grow with the addition of Women’s Soccer at Black Hills State University.
Drive along I-90 into Spearfish and you’ll notice a soccer billboard “Go for your goals” featuring Mikayla Hernandez. Hernandez, exercise science major from Centennial, Colo., just completed her freshman campaign, playing and starting in 13 games.
Hernandez has been involved in psychology research and residence life. She received a Humbert Hall scholarship and assisted, along with her team, in running a soccer tournament. After college she plans to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine to help alleviate athletic injuries in orthopedics.
The BHSU Women’s Soccer Program was established to “provide the opportunity for females with the interest and ability in the sport of soccer to attend Black Hills State and earn their degree while providing the opportunity and experience to compete at the NCAA DII level,” according to Jhett Albers, athletic director.
BHSU Soccer recently announced its 2018 season, kicking off with an exhibition match vs. Morningside College Sunday, Aug. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Rapid City followed by the official season opener Aug. 30 at Minot State University. View the full schedule
The first home match is Friday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. at Ronnie Theisz Field in Spearfish. The opponent is Westminster College.
In addition to Hernandez, soccer fans will see two other players featured in sport promotions. These three teammates along with 17 others are making history as a part of the first women’s soccer team at BHSU.
Katie Nielson, biology and chemistry major from Pierre, has played both years of the BHSU soccer program. She earned RMAC Honorable Mention honors following her freshman year (2016). She scored a team-high five goals in 2016, and a team-high three in 2017. She tallied the first ever goal scored by a Yellow Jacket. Nielson has been on the Dean’s List, is a member of the BHSU Health Science Student Organization, a volunteer soccer coach for Spearfish Youth Soccer, Student Athlete Advisory Committee rep, and she is a chemistry tutor. She has received several scholarships including the Nelson, Buzz Bonus, and S.D. Opportunity Scholarships. Nielson plans to become a doctor in the field of pediatrics. She hopes to work with Doctors without Borders in the future.
Rose Miller, business administration major from Rapid City, will be a senior in 2018-19, and has played two seasons. She earned RMAC Honorable Mention following the 2016 season. She had three goals and three assists in 2016. She played in and started all 17 games in 2017. Miller is a Buzz Bonus scholarship recipient and her academic accomplishments earned her a place on the Dean’s List. After graduation from BHSU, she plans to pursue her CPA license and become a health/nutrition entrepreneur.
Soccer continues to grow in the state and region. The South Dakota State Soccer Association (SDSSA) reports it has 16,000 youth soccer players along with a full time staff.
The Spearfish Soccer Association hosts two indoor tournaments every winter played on the BHSU campus. Rapid City has been called a soccer town with 3,000 league-registered players according to VisitRapidCity.com. The local club hosts annual tournaments along with thousands of soccer players each year. A 12-field soccer complex was developed near downtown Rapid City.
The BHSU Women’s Soccer program has two years of competition under their wings and is now led by Coach Mike Greco. Community support has been strong, with solid attendance numbers at home games at Ronnie Theisz Field.
Learn more at www.BHSUathletics.com