(Tahlequah, Okla.)--The coach who founded the soccer program at Northeastern State will be forever linked to the sport he loves.
Dr. Dan DeLoache was honored Oct. 23 during a post-game ceremony officially changing the name of the NSU Soccer Complex. A new brick arch entrance proudly proclaims the home of NSU soccer as Dr. Dan F. DeLoache Field.
“I was just so overwhelmed and humbled by the whole thing,” DeLoache said. “The facility was named for me but so many other people did so much to make the NSU soccer program successful.”
The men’s soccer match between NSU and Eastern New Mexico, which served as the ceremony’s setting, didn’t turn out well for the home team. ENMU prevailed 2-1, but former players and longtime fans said nothing could ruin the rededication.
“It was a welcome recognition for a gentleman who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into building a soccer program,” said Daniel Johnson, director of alumni services and a former player who was open in his support of the complex being named for DeLoache. “The day of activities was wonderful because it brought back a lot of alumni players who had not been back to campus in a number of years. It allowed us to reminisce and pay homage to Coach DeLoache.”
By establishing a public school soccer program, DeLoache and his assistants created a post-high school option not available to area soccer players before.
“There were thousands of kids in the Tulsa area playing in the Green Country Soccer Association,” DeLoache said. “Not all of them could afford or would necessarily choose a private university though they might possess the talent to play the collegiate game. We attracted a lot of students to our program because they wanted to attend a public institution like NSU.”
DeLoache still frequents the sidelines of RiverHawks soccer games. Perhaps his coaching days are over, but this NSU Hall of Fame coach said his days with the soccer program were among the most rewarding of his life.
“It was all volunteer work, but what stands out in my mind was the enjoyment of participating in the program,” he said. “Graduates have come back and told me they appreciate being able to come to college and play soccer. It’s wonderful that so many people can identify with and feel for the program as much as I do.”
In 1981, DeLoache presented the NSU administration with a plan to become the first state-supported institution in Oklahoma to add men’s soccer as a varsity sport. Using his experience establishing the youth Indian Nations Soccer Club in Cherokee County, he created the university’s soccer program with assistants Dr. Lee Quiett and Jim Malone.
“This was not something I could have done by myself,” DeLoache said. “To this day I’m so happy I wasn’t alone.”
In the program’s infancy, DeLoache, Quiett and Malone handled every facet of managing a team on a startup budget. DeLoache obtained the proper license to drive the team bus. They were the trainers and their wives washed the uniforms in their own laundry rooms and packed lunches. Their children filled in as equipment managers.
DeLoache, a professor in the College of Education, served as head coach of the Redmen soccer team until 1993, when he handed the reins to Brian Elliott. DeLoache continued as an administrative assistant within the program until he officially retired in 1995.
That year, former Tulsa Roughnecks coach Charlie Mitchell assumed the helm of the NSU soccer program, and a women’s team was added under his direction in 1996. Today the men’s team is coached by Rob Czlonka and the women’s team is led by Chase Wooten.
“The coaches we have today are doing an excellent job,” DeLoache said. “Under every coach the program has seemed to grow. I think Rob and Chase are going to take it to an even higher level.”
Published: 11/1/2011 4:59:26 PM