The WCU men’s soccer program was discontinued more than 30 years ago, but the former players, now in their 50s and 60s, are still winning for their alma mater in several ways. “The old-timers,” as they call themselves, host an annual reunion that is a source of pride for having one of the longest-running histories of any alumni group. Former players memorialized two coaches who died of cancer by establishing endowed scholarships for student-athletes. The Charles W. Schrader Soccer Scholarship and the Malcolm Loughlin Soccer Scholarship have far surpassed the $25,000 endowment level, with a combined total of $85,000. The continuing support of the old-timers inspired WCU women’s soccer program alumnae to follow suit. The KKSB (“Kappa Kappa Soccer Babes”) Legacy Foundational Scholarship, started in January by the soccer alumnae, has raised $4,520 toward its first-year goal of $5,000.
The Old-Timers Soccer Reunion traces its history to the mid-1970s when Coach Schrader and wife Myrtle hosted an annual gathering for players. Myrtle Schrader continues to be involved, more than 40 years later. The 2017 weekend event held in early April included a dinner party, golf outing, picnic and coed alumni match at the WCU soccer complex. Reunion organizer Brad Bradshaw ’76 (above) of St. Augustine, Florida, a member of the soccer team for all four of his years at WCU, said the gatherings have reached a period of transition as more women players join the ranks. “The women’s soccer alumnae are taking on a more active role,” Bradshaw said. “There’s a phenomenon happening, and more families, extended families, and former coaches and families are coming.” This year, more than 85 people attended the reunion dinner party.
The men’s soccer program at WCU that the old-timers fondly remember was discontinued after the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act. The federal law required institutions receiving public funds to offer equal opportunities to men and women athletes. Men’s soccer was canceled in 1984 to make room for more women’s opportunities. The male players and team alumni were disappointed, but put hard feelings aside and kept getting together for fellowship and to renew ties. When the women’s soccer program started in 1999, they gave their full support and welcomed the new alumnae to their annual tradition.
“The loss of the men’s soccer program was unfortunate, and it blows your mind to realize how supportive the alumni who played on those teams have been of the women’s program,” said former women’s team goalkeeper Tina Weaver ’04. “To have that type of commitment, love and perseverance, these men are exceptional and certainly have done more for soccer at WCU than anyone knows.”