By Brad Blume, Sports Information Director
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines recently announced the addition of a men's soccer program to the Hardrocker Athletics Department beginning in the fall of 2012. The program is already starting to take shape as Wednesday the Hardrockers announced the hiring of the team's first-ever head coach --- Joe Burger.
Burger, who was the assistant coach at Drake University in Iowa, brings not only experience in establishing a new soccer program, but also determination and desire to develop the Hardrocker program from scratch and turn it into a consistent and competitive team.
"This is an exciting day for Hardrocker Athletics," said South Dakota Mines Athletics Director Dick Kaiser. "It is the first addition of a men's sport in over 30 years and it couldn't come at a better time for our institution."
Burger, a 1995 graduate of the University of Missouri - Kansas City (BA), has spent the last 16 years in the world of soccer. He has a United States Federation National 'A' Coaching License --- which is the highest license available.
"I am excited to have this opportunity at South Dakota Mines. The potential of this institution and the chance to build a program from scratch again is exciting," Burger said. "Not a lot of coaches get to do that in their career but to be asked to do it twice is a great opportunity."
Burger was the assistant men's soccer coach at Drake for the past five years. During that time, his duties included: assisting in the oversight of all aspects of the men's soccer program (travel, team training, recruiting, game preparation, budget management, fundraising, marketing, team strength and conditioning as well as team academic progress).
While at Drake, Burger earned the College Soccer News Top Assistant Coach of the Year (2008) and helped guide the men's team to a 62-40-16 overall won-loss record and earned the Bulldogs an initial NCAA Tournament berth in 2008 and Drake's run to the Elite Eight in 2009. Drake received 36 All-Missouri Valley Conference and 25 All-MVC Scholar-Athlete selections, respectively while Burger was there. Nine times Bulldogs were chosen NSCAA Academic All-Americans.
Before that, Burger was the head coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan., from 2001-06, where he established new men's and women's programs. At Barton County, he was in charge of all aspects of the soccer programs including: team selection, assistant coach selection, team training, recruiting, team travel, game preparation, budget management and academic progress. While at Barton County, Berger established a men's record of 63-30-11 and a conference mark of 39-8-4.
Burger was a finalist for the National Soccer Coaches Adidas NJCAA Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005 and received the Regional and Conference Coach of the Year Award in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
"Joe is an outstanding individual and a quality coach. He has proven collegiate experience as a head coach and as an assistant at a high level NCAA Div. I program. There is no question in my mind he is the right individual to get this program off the ground," Kaiser said. "Coach Burger brings with him a complete understanding of our need to attract student-athletes with high academic qualifications. His experiences at Drake University as a recruiter were a very attractive part of the resume he presented to us."
By adding soccer Kaiser feels it will fulfill multiple needs to the SD Mines Athletics Dept. There has always been a strong club emphasis in soccer on SD Mines campus as well as a strong interest from the student body. It also provides the Hardrockers with a nature of compliance with Title IX as well as makes the Hardrockers more desirable as they seek NCAA Div. II conference affiliation.
"The opportunity to help grow the game in this part of the country was too good to pass up, "Burger said. "I think I will be able to help do good things, not just at the college level, but also help promote soccer in the community and give the area's soccer fans a good product that they can enjoy to watch and support. I want to give them a hometown team that they can follow.
SD Mines plans to roster approximately 30 student-athletes as the program begins to take shape. It will however be a non-scholarship program during the first season.
"Joe is going to hit the ground running and spend the next seven months attempting to build a quality men's soccer program," Kaiser said. "I am excited that he is here and ready to go. This is definitely the start of a new era in South Dakota School of Mines Athletics."