August 23, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Less than a year ago soccer was announced as the newest sport on both the men’s and women’s sides of the Grand Rapids Community College athletics ledger.
It joined men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s cross country, plus baseball and golf on the men’s side and softball and volleyball on the women’s side.
Now, the two Raiders soccer teams will kick off the home portions of their 2023 seasons with a men’s and women’s doubleheader on Saturday, August 26 at MacKay-Jaycees Park (located at 2401 Kalamazoo Avenue SE in Grand Rapids).
Both squads will host the Titans of Terra State Community College with the women’s tilt slated for a 1 p.m. start and the men to follow at 3 p.m.
Women’s schedule: https://grccraiders.com/sports/womens-soccer/schedule
Men’s schedule: https://grccraiders.com/sports/mens-soccer/schedule
GRCC athletic director Lauren Ferullo can’t wait to see the college’s two newest teams in action. She is a former soccer player and coach and noted that soccer was added in part because it was consistently the most asked-about sport from prospective student-athletes when they visited campus.
That interest has led to full rosters for both women’s coach Jason Hill and men’s coach Damiekco Smith who each have 20-plus players on their 2023 squads. Both teams also have strong local connections with almost every player on each side hailing from West Michigan high schools and club teams.
Women’s roster: https://grccraiders.com/sports/womens-soccer/roster
Men’s roster: https://grccraiders.com/sports/mens-soccer/roster
Both coaches said it’s a huge honor to be at the helm of the college’s first-ever soccer teams.
“I honestly still can't believe I'm doing this,” Hill said with a smile. “I can feel the weight of being the head coach of the women's soccer team at GRCC, and I'm excited to have this opportunity and will continue to grow the program.” Smith agreed.
“It feels great, and the team is excited to play,” he said. “Every game is a highlight for us. We will be fun to watch and will definitely put on a show.”
Both coaches also said it’s a pleasure to recruit student-athletes to the college.
“The flexibility of GRCC is a huge recruiting bonus,” said Hill. “Most of our athletes are local, and at their hometown community college they can work on their general education credits and earn an associate degree or a certificate. My wife has an associate degree in nursing from GRCC, and there are so many great choices here.”
And Smith said simply that his pitch was his players will see the pitch.
"It doesn't matter if you're (NCAA) D1 if you are sitting on D-bench,” he said with a laugh. “Come play for me, and you will see the field, and you will be making history.”
Both coaches came to GRCC with sterling credentials and are eager to share their expertise with their players.
Smith has almost three decades of soccer coaching experience, including at the collegiate and club levels and most recently as head coach for the Wellspring Prep High School girls’ soccer team, while Hill also came to GRCC with a wealth of coaching experience and played club soccer for 16 years in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and a variety of countries in Europe.
This story was reported by Phil de Haan.