Congratulations, mate! Stuart Campbell, the director of soccer at the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County, has added some new highlights to his already-impressive resumé.
First of all, Campbell (photo), the Wesley Chapel resident who also is a former Tampa Bay Rowdies player and head coach, will be the first-ever head coach of the new women’s soccer program Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC).
PHSC, which already competes in basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and cross country at its main campus in New Port Richey, is adding girls soccer to its athletic program beginning in August.
The twist is that PHSC’s women’s soccer side won’t play in New Port Richey, but instead will call the PHSC Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch home. That also means the women will play their home matches at the new Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus off S.R. 56.
But wait, there’s more! Campbell also will also head up Wesley Chapel’s entry in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), which will be called RADD FC and also will play its home games at the Sports Campus for this upcoming season.
The WPSL is the longest active women’s pro soccer league in the U.S. It was created in 1998 and is an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the ruling body of soccer in this country. Most of RADD FC’s players are current student-athletes.
There are 141 WPSL teams nationwide, in 32 different states, as well as teams in Vancouver, British Columbia.
RADD FC will compete in the Northern Division of the Sunshine Conference, along with the Clermont Kicks FC, Florida Krush (Winter Park) and Tampa teams Florida Premier FC and Tampa Bay United.
“I can’t wait to be part of RADD FC’s WPSL team,” Campbell said.“This will take women’s soccer to another level, as well as grow within our community.”
Campbell, 43, was born to Scottish parents in England, played professionally from 1996-13, including a stint with Leicester City of the renowned English Premier League. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2013, playing one season, and then served as an assistant coach from 2014-15 and as the team’s head coach from 2015-18.
Both RADD FC and the PHSC women’s team are expected to elevate the footprint of women’s soccer in the Tampa Bay area.
The PHSC Bobcats will be a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) at the Division II level, as well as the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA).
PHSC athletic director Steve Winterling thinks the idea of providing another opportunity for women athletes is great timing, considering that many colleges are dropping athletic programs to save money in the wake of Covid-19, while also offering an extra year for the athletes already at their schools, creating a potential backlog. It also helps PHSC meet Title IX requirements.
“The college was looking to expand its athletic program, and you’re always dealing with gender equity so it helped balanced us out in several areas,” Winterling says. “Also, financial times are tough, and we were looking at also giving women an opportunity to participate (in what is a relatively inexpensive sport).”
As for playing at the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus, Winterling says he has been thinking about ways to bring PHSC athletics to the east side of the county for years. While the school considered playing at other sites on the west side of the county, he says RADD Sports CEO Richard Blalock, who manages the private side of the Sports Campus in the public-private partnership with Pasco County, expressed interest in a relationship, especially with soccer.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Winterling says.
Campbell was chosen to lead the program from a pool of 13 applicants.
PHSC has a lot of work ahead of it before it opens the season in August against Polk State College. One of the first issues to solve after finding players will be finding teams to play. Winterling says there are only three other NJCAA Division II women’s soccer teams in the state — Daytona State College, Eastern Florida State and Polk State College. PHSC has already scheduled Polk State four times this upcoming season.
“We’ll have to scramble a little and maybe travel out of state to find some competition,” he says. “We have a few questions to iron out, but we’re really excited to get this going.”
Time To Go Camping!
Meanwhile, Campbell also will be part of the Nike US Sports Camps at the Sports Campus, which will include basketball, soccer, volleyball and cheerleading camps for boys and girls, ages 8-18.