WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Feb. 8, 2017 – West Liberty University President Dr. Stephen Greiner announced Wednesday that the university is adding men’s soccer to its NCAA Division II sports lineup.
Dr. Greiner was joined by co-interim athletic directors Lynn Ullom and Roger Waialae at the morning press conference, which also served to introduce Thomas Olivier as head coach of the university’s newest sport.
“As we continue to expand and enhance the opportunities available to our diverse student-athlete population, we are thrilled to add men’s soccer as our 18th varsity sport,” Dr. Greiner said. “Given the popularity of the sport at the youth level across our region and the success of our rising women’s soccer team, we believe this is a program with unlimited potential.”
The Hilltoppers will field a club team in the fall before moving up to NCAA Division II varsity status in 2018 in one of the nation’s top NCAA Division II men’s soccer leagues. The Mountain East Conference has qualified multiple teams for NCAA Tournament play in every season of its existence with Charleston advancing to the “Final Four” each of the past three years.
Olivier comes to West Liberty after a successful 8-year stint as the top assistant at NCAA Division I Marshall University and has also been extremely active on the youth soccer scene at the state and regional level. Ullom said the search committee believed that combination would enable Olivier to hit the ground running.
“It is certainly a daunting challenge with so many nationally-ranked programs in the MEC,” Ullom said, “but Thomas impressed us as an individual with the ability and drive to build and develop a soccer program that will be able to compete with the best the MEC has to offer. With his coaching background and connections throughout the region, we’re very excited about what he brings to the table.”
Olivier said he was excited about the chance to start his own program from scratch at West Liberty.
“The opportunity to build a program from the ground up was very attractive,” Olivier said, “especially in light of the excitement and potential I saw from the people here on campus. Given the high level of commitment from our president and the administration along with the resources available to us here, I’m looking forward to building a quality program the university and the entire West Liberty community can be proud of.”
A native of Bonsecours, France, Olivier was the top assistant to legendary head coach Bobby Gray at Marshall. Charged with leading recruiting and on-field player development, Olivier helped guide the Thundering Herd to four Conference USA Tournament bids and two trips to the Conference USA championship game.
As noted, Olivier also has extensive experience with and strong ties to the youth soccer community. He currently serves as Director of Coaching Education for the West Virginia Soccer Association (WVSA) and is a member of U.S. Youth Soccer Region One Olympic Development Program coaching staff.
Before coming to the Mountain State, Olivier spent eight years in Ann Arbor, Mich., working full-time as a coach with the Ann Arbor Arsenal youth club. He served as the club’s Director of Coaching during his last four years. The highly-regarded soccer mentor holds the NSCAA Premier Diploma and U.S. Soccer “B” License. He will reside in Wheeling with his wife, Venessa, and their three boys: Cody (13) and twins Eli and Aaron (11).
“Starting out with a club season in the fall and building to varsity in 2018 is like having an 18-month preseason development program,” Olivier said. “We can bring a freshman in this fall and he’ll have a year to help make the transition from high school to college as opposed to getting on campus in the middle of August with just two weeks to get ready for their first game.
“We will be recruiting academically driven and soccer motivated student-athletes who want to take advantage of a unique opportunity that allows me to ask the question, ‘Do they want to just be a part of history somewhere else or do they want to come to West Liberty and make history?”
For more information or questions about West Liberty men’s soccer, Coach Olivier can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at (304) 654-3091.
ABOUT WEST LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education and offering nearly 70 undergraduate majors and 30 programs. Graduate programs include the Master of Arts in Education, the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, the Master of Professional Studies, the Master of Science in Criminology and the online MBA degrees. For more information on WLU, please call 1.866.WESTLIB (1.866.937.8542)