By Bob Holmes and Abbey LeRoy
History was made Aug. 25, 2012 when the Columbia International University Rams soccer team took the field in the first-ever intercollegiate athletic contest in the 90-year history of the school. And the hundreds of fans on hand were not disappointed. The Rams defeated the Eagles of Toccoa Falls 1-0 in a hard-fought match.
There were 13 minutes remaining on the clock when freshman Daniel Mallard made more history by scoring the first goal in CIU history off an assist by freshman Noah McKenzie. Mallard was the first athlete to sign with CIU.
“To be honest, I was in the right place at the right time," Mallard said in response to scoring the first goal. "I’m really honored to play on CIU’s first soccer team and had so much fun playing for the fans.”
And the hundreds of fans in attendance had fun too. It was a "Gold Out" Saturday night at CIU. Each fan was given a free gold t-shirt with the words, "Ram 'em Rams" printed across the front.
One of the fans was CIU junior Natalie Mejia who wanted to be on hand for the historic event.
“I’m really excited to be part of history," Mejia said. "This is such a big change for CIU, and I’m glad to be part of it.”
Head Soccer Coach James Whitaker described the atmosphere as "awesome" and said he was proud of the team for playing so hard.
It was a special moment for Dean of Students Rick Swift who has been a long-time advocate of intercollegiate athletics at CIU.
“We’ve been waiting for some time to see the athletics program become a reality,” Swift said. "It was an excellent moment tonight to see it finally happen.”
For more on the game, see the local media coverage from WLTX TV at:
See CIU's Flickr page for photos of the soccer match:
Meanwhile, the CIU Cross Country squad is preparing for its first meet on Aug. 31.
Check out the CIU soccer and cross country schedules for this fall, and learn about CIU’s plans for future athletic teams at www.ciu.edu/athletics.