LUBBOCK, Texas (October 7, 2009) - Lubbock Christian University President Dr. Ken L. Jones and athletic director Paul Hise officially announced the athletic department is adding men's and women's soccer to begin intercollegiate play in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) beginning in the fall of 2010. Hise further introduced Kyle Beard as the men's head soccer coach and Babak Abouzar as the women's head coach in a press conference held at the Rip Griffin Center.
The two programs are the newest programs added since softball was added in 2008. LCU now has 11 varsity athletic programs. The two programs will compete at an on-campus facility currently being constructed on the west side of campus near PlainsCapital Park. They will each compete in the Sooner Athletic Conference, which currently has ten men's programs and 11 women's programs competing in soccer. The men's program will serve as the highest form of soccer within the Lubbock city limits, as Texas Tech University only has women's soccer.
Beard comes to LCU after serving as a foreign vocational missionary in Rwanda (Africa) in a partnership with South Plains Church of Christ. While working in Rwanda, Beard also served in the soccer community as the head coach of the Rwanda women's national team (2006-2008) and the men's national futsal development team (2008-2009). He helped lead the women's national team to a Kigali Centennial Cup championship title in 2007 and to a CECAFA Cup Qualifier. Beard also served as an assistant coach for the Rwanda men's U-20 and U-17 national team (2007-2009). His coaching also led to the development of university programs in Rwanda and a partnership program with the German Football Federation, which provided a professional level of training and fitness to Rwandan coaches for youth and college player development. Beard also competed with the Muzungu United division II men's professional team in Rwanda. The Tyler, Texas native began playing soccer in the Tyler area and spent a pair of seasons playing for the semi-professional Tyler Jaguars before attending Lubbock Christian University. He graduated LCU in 2000, and during his time at LCU, he helped pioneer a club-level soccer program. The LCU club program qualified for the NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) playoffs while Beard participated with the squad from 1997-2000. Beard coached at the high school level out of college and received several accolades, including the TAPPS Tennis Coach of the Year honor in 2004. Beard has also served time in the United States Army as a combat engineer before suffering an injury in AIT training and was released on honorable conditions. Kyle is married to Luz, a 2000 LCU graduate, and they enjoy time with their son Koen (8) and daughter Heaven (5).
Abouzar is currently serving as the graduate assistant coach for the Lipscomb University women's soccer program in Nashville, Tenn. He is currently completing his second season with the NCAA Div. I program. The Mesquite, Texas native graduated in May of 2008 from Lipscomb College of Business with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. He will receive his Masters Degree in Business Administration in December. Abouzar was a NJCAA All-American and part of a NJCAA National Championship while at Richland College in Dallas, where he spent two seasons before transferring to Lipscomb University. In two seasons as a defender with the Bisons, Abouzar claimed Atlantic Sun All-Academic honors. Abouzar spends summers involving his time with camps, including the nationally known Texas based "Tatu's All-Star Camp." He holds a USSF National "D" license and a NSCAA Regional Goalkeeper diploma.
The university hopes the new programs will add another chapter to the recent success of LCU athletics. In 2008-2009, LCU teams combined for an impressive 183-44 record (80.6%), with 13 All-Americans and 13 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes (program highs) produced. For the first time in program history, every women's sport qualified (by team or individual) for an NAIA National Championship berth during the season as well. The women's teams combined for a 117-20 (85.4%) record. Baseball claimed an NAIA National Title in May (first since 1983), marking the first time in NAIA history that a baseball and softball program claimed a national title within a year apart.
Lubbock Christian University is a private four-year comprehensive institution that promotes unique educational opportunities with a strategic focus on student success in four key areas: spiritual formation, intellectual growth, personal stewardship and leadership development. Degree programs are offered for 29 bachelor's degrees and 14 master's degrees. For over 50 years, the school has offered academic excellence in a Christian environment.