Lady Blues soccer, basketball among top draws in the nation

Nathan Miller

If you build it, they will come.

In just four short years the Lady Blues soccer team has built a national competitive program, with a No. 2 in the nation following.

“Over the last two years we have put on a really good show,” said Tim Collins, head soccer coach. “We’re fast, we play hard, we have fantastic athletes as well as fantastic human beings in our program. People recognize that and, therefore, they want to support us.”

The defending MIAA champions finished second in home attendance behind UC-San Diego in Division II last year. In their second year of calling Yager Stadium home, the Lady Blues are picked to take the conference crown again.

“It’s awesome to get people out here,” said Jessica Mainz, junior forward. “We have this awesome stadium to play in now. The fans’ presence just gives us an extra boost sometimes.”

Mainz, a returning All-American, enjoys the Washburn fan base in two sports, as she also plays point guard for the women’s basketball team. The Lady Blues basketball team one-upped the soccer program last year, drawing the largest home crowd in Division II.

“A lot of the same people to go to both,” said Mainz. “There are more people that go to basketball but they’re like ‘we will have to come watch soccer now.’ It’s exciting to get some repeat fans in both sports.”

Mainz helped the Lady Blues last year capture an MIAA tournament championship and a trip to the Sweet 16. She explains it’s thrilling to hear the crowd when major turning points in the game happen.

“Usually in the middle of the game you’re focused on the game and not the crowd,” said Mainz. “But once we score a goal or something like that, it’s just awesome to hear everybody.”

Collins added how support has helped his program since it’s inception five years ago.

“It just exhibits the fact that people are following us and people care about athletics here at Washburn,” said Collins.

The Lady Blues, ranked No. 16 in the NSCA poll, had an average of 390 fans attend their home games compared to UC-San Diego’s 597.

“We’re hoping to compete with UC-San Diego,” said Collins. “We are hoping to build towards that and then that becomes a real boost for recruiting. Not only will we have an attractive athletic package but also there is tremendous support here and it would really help make a difference.”

The Lady Blues’ first home stand is Aug. 29 against Rockhurst.