Women’s soccer sets goals for first season
Twenty years ago, Brian Rigby first stepped onto Flames Field as a member of the men’s soccer team, eager to make his mark.
On Aug. 6, he returns to the field, but this time as head coach of the inaugural women’s soccer team, eager to set a strong foundation for the program.
“It’s exciting to be back and it’s an honor to be selected as the leader to start this new chapter,” he said.
Rigby, known as “Riggs” to his players, has been hard at work setting the foundation for the team since he was hired in November 2012.
“We’ve started from the ground up,” he said. “We didn’t have anything, not even an office.”
He recruited 26 players to start playing this fall, including five current students. The 2014 team includes players from Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio, Rigby said.
“The main objective was to find the best players that were still available who were also interested in the academic variety that UIC has to offer and the urban setting,” he said.
Rigby, a 1998 College of Business Administration graduate, teaches from experience. He was a four-year letter winner with the Flames from 1994 to 1997 and team captain his last two seasons. He earned All-League honors in 1997.
“We have to have a clear vision and a path of how we’re going to accomplish our goals,” he said. “Through performance, the wins will come and that will help us get to our ultimate goals.”
The players who are already UIC students — four freshmen and a sophomore — are training at least five days a week and working on drills with volunteers who serve as practice players.
“They’re learning the speed of play and the speed of thought to the Division 1 level and the expectations that come with being a Division 1 student athlete,” Rigby said. “They need to have the mindset that they are here to study, play and be successful.”
Sophomore Flo Beshiri is excited to be a member of the inaugural team. Beshiri, a Downers Grove native, transferred to UIC from Creighton in the fall.
“Once I talked to Coach Rigby and understood what his goals were, I knew it was something I wanted to be part of,” said Beshiri, a math major. “It’s very exciting because we’re starting everything from scratch and setting the foundation for the program for years to come. It’s more exciting than nerve-wracking.”
Cecilia Magos, who’s from Cicero, thinks the team can make a name for itself.
“We all get along, we have a lot of talent and it’s a really good group,” said Magos, a freshman in biological sciences. “We want to really make ourselves stand out.”
Beshiri will keep training over the summer with the Naperville Soccer Association club league.
Her goal for the team’s first season: bring home a championship.
“That would be a huge thing to do, especially being a first-year program,” she said. “It would be really exciting to win that.”