09/09/18 — COLLEGE SPORTS: Eisen says two sports, women's field hockey and wrestling, are sensible fit for UMO

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COLLEGE SPORTS: Eisen says two sports, women's field hockey and wrestling, are sensible fit for UMO

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 9, 2018 3:05 AM



MOUNT OLIVE -- Dr. David Poole kept his promise.

It was earlier than expected, though.

The fifth president in University of Mount Olive history, Poole confidently spoke about increasing student enrollment and adding sports to one of the Southeast Region's top Division II athletics programs.

Three came to mind -- women's field hockey, wrestling and swimming.

Jeff Eisen, vice president of UMO athletics, announced last Thursday afternoon that the school would add field hockey and wrestling for the 2019-2020 calendar year.

Eisen said the two sports have grown and are now sponsored by Conference Carolinas.

"I know that was on his agenda and that it was a matter of identifying which sports were the best for us," Eisen said. "Those two sports really stood out among the others as ones that would be a good fit for our current program. I think it made them more attractive options for us."

There is no timetable to add swimming, an expensive sport that requires its own facility and would require outside resources to help fund it.

Field hockey is played in the fall and wrestling is contested in the winter. Those schedules fit well into an athletics calendar that is normally over-populated with home and away contests for six sports (10 teams total) during the spring.

UMO is a perennial conference championship contender in every sport.

Eisen hopes the same holds true for field hockey and wrestling.

Lacrosse is a perfect example.

The school added men's and women's teams in 2012-13. Since their respective inceptions, the women's team won a Conference Carolinas title last spring and the men's team advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2016. Graduate Will Urban was named the Division II goalie-of-the-year in 2018 -- a first in program history.

A new coach coming into UMO will see that success and can use it as a selling point to recruits.

"I think it makes us feel confident adding a sport that's done fairly well recently and it's been successful right away," Eisen said. "From an administrative standpoint, we feel good about that."

Mount Olive is a school starting to bloom on the regional and national level with its athletic teams and individual athletes. Eisen said that helps in recruiting as well and when one team does well on that stage, it helps the entire athletics program as a whole.

Incoming athletes, Eisen said, realize that UMO is a good place for academics, athletics and overall success.

Field hockey will play its games on the artificial turf inside the Ray McDonald Sr. Lacrosse/Track & Field Complex. The wrestling team will play host to dual matches inside Kornegay Arena.

Funding for the new sports is expected to come from increasing enrollment. The school will incur some capital expenses to help operate the two teams and Eisen said that will be handled through fund raising, hopefully through assistance from the community.

"We've been fortunate with the type of support that we have received," Eisen said. "Field hockey will be like lacrosse was...a little new to the area and people will have to get familiar with that. I'm sure there will be some good interest in both sports."