TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Idaho high school soccer players looking to keep the ball rolling close to home after they graduate will have a new option — so will anyone looking for a place to play in Jerome, whether it's a game of soccer or just taking a walk in the park.
The College of Southern Idaho will field men's and women's soccer teams beginning in the fall of 2024, the president of the Twin Falls-based public community college announced Monday.
"I got tired of reading stories about students from the Magic Valley going outside of the area to play soccer. I don't want to say I got tired, but I was frustrated that I didn't have a good answer for events and the community when I go to them, and people in the Hispanic community ask me, 'When are we going to get soccer?' I have an answer now: Fall of '24," CSI President Dr. Dean Fisher said.
The effort to hire coaches for the CSI Golden Eagles soccer programs will begin soon, with the first coach possibly being hired and ready to start recruiting players around the end of this summer, Fisher said.
The teams will play home games across the Snake River from campus, at a site on the south side of Jerome that is under construction. Along with CSI, the City of Jerome, the Jerome Urban Renewal Agency and the Jerome Recreation District are partnering for the 17-acre park. It will include two full-size soccer fields.
"Full-sized soccer fields is something that's been lacking in our community. We have several other sporting facilities within the community, but this meets a need that is currently not met," said Gary Warr, executive director of the Jerome Recreation District. "There's going to be ample parking; there's going to be some other amenities. We're hoping to build a destination-style playground that will be on-site. There's going to be additional open space the community can enjoy — so it's not just going to be just soccer. This is going to be something that everybody gets to enjoy."
While the plan is to have games at the park now in the works in Jerome, the CSI soccer squads will practice on fields located on the CSI campus.
"I've been assured by many coaches in the area that there's talent that is good enough to compete within the Scenic West conference, and we're excited to be able to serve our communities and allow those opportunities to happen," CSI Athletic Director Joel Bate said. "Our investment in Jerome is very important to us as well."
Jerome Mayor David Davis said what's exciting to him about the addition of soccer at CSI is the prospect of another opportunity for local high school soccer players in the Magic Valley and southern Idaho as a whole.
"We've got some great soccer going on in this valley, and these kids are having to leave the valley to play soccer at college," Davis said. "I think it's going to be an exciting time."
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