CORPUS CHRISTI – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi President Dr. Flavius Killebrew and Interim Director of Athletics Scott Lazenby today introduced Shanna Caldwell as the inaugural head coach of the newly-founded Islanders women's soccer program. Caldwell and her team will begin play in the fall of 2013 as part of the Southland Conference.
"I'm really proud to be here today to announce Shanna Caldwell as our first women's soccer coach," Killebrew said. "Soccer will give us a strong fall sport and give our students opportunities and engagement. With respect to Title IX and compliance it will give young ladies an opportunity to participate."
The addition of women's soccer as a varsity sport was in step with the growing female population at the university. Females now comprise nearly 62 percent of the students at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, with an increase of nearly 1,000 females from fall 2007 to fall 2011. In addition to meeting the interests of the women at the university and in the community, the addition of soccer will help the Department of Athletics remain in compliance with Title IX regulations.
"It is an exciting day for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi and Islanders Athletics," Lazenby said. "When we were looking for a soccer coach we looked for three unique characteristics: 1: Someone who has Texas ties. 2: Someone who has Division I coaching and playing experience and 3: Someone with high moral character and strong leadership skills. With Shanna we got all three."
The popularity of soccer in the Corpus Christi community also was a major consideration in adding soccer as a varsity sport. Whataburger Field has hosted two soccer matches, drawing 6,111 for a regular-season Houston Dynamo match in 2010 and 5,432 for a Dynamo friendly in 2011. Additionally, in the high school ranks, both Gregory-Portland and Flour Bluff advanced to the Conference 4A Regional Semifinals last year.
This will be the first head coaching stop for Caldwell in her coaching career, with the former standout goalkeeper having been an assistant coach at Akron, Baylor, Oklahoma and Alabama. She arrived at the Island University on Jan. 2, and hit the ground running from her first day on the job.
"I'd like to thank President Killebrew, Dr. Trent Hill and Scott Lazenby for the opportunity and trust in building this new program," Caldwell said. "I have always wanted to be a head coach. Texas is full of soccer talent and I want to start recruiting right away. Success doesn't just happen on the field. It happens in the classroom and in the community."
Caldwell most recently spent four years as the recruiting coordinator and first assistant coach at the University of Akron under Chris Pfau. In her time there, the Zips went from a lower-tier team in the Mid-American Conference to three straight conference tournaments – a first in program history.
Prior to heading to the Buckeye State, Caldwell spent two years working with the goalkeepers at Baylor under George Van Linder. Caldwell played a large role in the performance of First Team All-Big 12 selection Ashley Noah. Her two-season stint with the Bears followed a strong year working with the keepers at Alabama. The Williamsburg, Va., native spent three seasons at Oklahoma before heading to Alabama. During her time in Norman, Caldwell helped the Sooners advance to the 2003 NCAA Tournament and register four shutouts on the season.
As a collegiate student-athlete, Caldwell proved herself to be one of the nation's top goalkeepers while playing three years for the University of Connecticut. As a senior, she led the NCAA in goals-against average, helping to lead the Huskies to their third straight Big East Northeast Division title and 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Caldwell, who holds a NSCAA Goalkeeper I diploma and a USSF D License, earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from Connecticut in 2002.