CENTRAL VALLEY, Pa. — Soccer is the newest sport to be added to Penn State Lehigh Valley’s athletic program, with a coed soccer club forming for fall 2017.
After one year of club status, Penn State Lehigh Valley will add a men’s and women’s intercollegiate soccer program in the fall of 2018. The team will compete in both the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) and in the United State Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
“The decision to add soccer was due to the high interest level from our student body and also as a way to expand our current student athlete numbers,” said Rich Fatzinger, athletic director at Penn State Lehigh Valley. “With more than 50 student-athletes, we have tripled the amount of students participating in our Penn State Lehigh Valley athletic programs over the past five years. And we are eager to continue building on the successful seasons our teams have been having in recent years.”
Soccer will be joining the campus’s six other intercollegiate teams. Penn State Lehigh Valley already offers men's and women's basketball, which recently finished a record season making it to the USCAA National Championships; women's volleyball; men's and women's cross country; men's golf and a club cycling team that boasts nationally ranked cyclists.
“To provide students the opportunity to continue their soccer career and to represent Penn State University while working toward a college degree is an invaluable experience,” said Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. “The lessons learned from being part of a team go beyond the playing field. All of our current student-athletes have learned the skills of discipline, resilience, selflessness and above all leadership. I am excited to see this continue and expand with the addition of soccer.”
Abe Mamari, of Allentown, has been announced as head coach of the upcoming program. Mamari has experience starting soccer teams as he was the first member of the Lehigh Carbon Community College soccer team in 2001. After graduating from Penn State Harrisburg, Mamari came back to Lehigh County and started the Lehigh Carbon Community College women’s soccer team. Mamari is currently coaching at Lehigh Carbon Community College where he has produced several all-conference players. Mamari hopes to bring his experience and passion for soccer to Penn State Lehigh Valley.
“I plan to give this program everything I have. I want to work hard and I want players to give that in return -- on and off the field. My main goal is to get players involved and to have both a men and women’s team in 2018,” said Mamari.
While playing soccer at LCCC, Mamari was selected as team MVP and team captain. He has experience coaching collegiately as well as in youth programs.
Maung Min, director of business programs at Penn State Lehigh Valley, will serve as the soccer club’s adviser.