Dibbini talks state of the women’s soccer program

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Mike Dibbini was named the K-State women's soccer head coach in December 2014. (Photo Courtesy of K-State Athletics)

Since being named the K-State women’s head coach last December, Mike Dibbini has been hard at work evangelizing the Wildcat gospel to everyone from recruits, alumni and a stadium full of Wildcat Kansas City Royals fans earlier this summer at K-State Day at the K.

“It’s a process still,” Dibbini said of how the program has progressed in his six months as head coach. “We’re just really in the thick of things as far as recruiting right now. Going after what we can find as far as the best remaining players for 2016-17, but our target group to play catch-up with the ‘Big 5′ conferences is the 2018 recruiting class and that’s where our big focus is on.”

Starting in the fall of 2016, K-State will join the other nine members of the Big 12 in adding women’s soccer as a scholarship sport.

Athletic Director John Currie made the recommendations to the K-State Athletics Inc. board of directors and President Kirk Schulz to add women’s soccer after dropping equestrian last October.

“The sport of soccer is one of the most popular, not only in the Midwest but across the world, and is a natural fit for us with nearly 4,000 high school young women participating throughout the state of Kansas,” Currie told K-State Sports in October. “Kansas City has become the epicenter of U.S. Soccer with the emergence and popularity of Sporting KC and FC Kansas City, in addition to becoming the future home of the U.S. National Team. “

With Kansas City being an emphasis in recruiting, Dibbini and his staff have seen that the impact of K-State adding women’s soccer has made ripples in waters normally controlled by the likes of Kansas and Missouri.

“I think we’re pretty much caught up in terms of the name (and getting it out there),” Dibbini said. “We are recruiting heavily in (Kansas and Missouri’s) backyard, especially the Kansas City area where there’s a lot more talent. But we’ve done a really good job in the marketing factor in the fact that in the last 13 years, Kansas didn’t have a logo or a crest and all of the sudden they have one now. So we’ve definitely made our impact right away.”

K-State adapted its own crest last spring after a online fan vote.

Dibbini said he hopes that the prospect of getting in on the ground floor and building something brand new will act as a incentive for recruits, in lieu of having a established tradition to sell to high school, transfer and international recruits.

“I would say the Big 12 and playing in a power conference and making a immediate impact is a good selling point for them,” Dibbini said. “You know a lot of them, especially national team players whether it’s in the US or other countries, tend to look at those big five conference schools number one; but number two, they look at traditions. They want to see themselves, after they get their education and degree, maybe having a chance at playing at a higher level so they go to those schools to get the maximum exposure. But why not come to a program and put a blueprint on something and create your own name for something and your name will pop a little more than going to a place where you can be a dime a dozen? So, you know, we’re working it and seeing what we can get.”

Dibbini also mentioned that while recruiting places far away from the Little Apple, one of the things that’s been most useful is the name recognition of another K-State head coach.

“I think the most impactful thing that’s really helped our program, I knew about it, I realized it but I didn’t realize how impactful it was, was Bill Snyder,” Dibbini said. “I think being out on the west coast especially or the east coast or wherever I’m at you know, they know Bill Snyder. So I think his name and what he’s done here has helped our program tremendously and it’s made an impact right away.”

Dibbini has already set a vision and goals for his team that presently has three players signed on to redshirt the 2015-16 season before K-State’s inaugural season next fall.

“Realistically, in three to five years, I want to compete at the Big 12 level,” Dibbini said. “That’s the realistic goal based on the recruiting. I think that women’s soccer is similar to volleyball where recruiting starts really early. If we didn’t have the recruiting that started really early then I think it would be a quicker process. But I want to be a Big 12 competitor in three to five years and if that falls into place, everything else will fall into place.”

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Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.