Dear Mr. Miller,
As a soccer coach who has been part of the incredible growth of soccer in Richmond during the last thirty years, I am extremely disappointed at the current decision to remove men's soccer as a varsity sport at the University of Richmond. I also volunteered as an assistant coach with Tim O'Sullivan when he was at the helm of Spider soccer, and I also worked for many years at the Spider Soccer Camp - which became one of the most successful camps in the state. I moved with Coach O'Sullivan when he moved to VCU and coached with him for a number of years until my other career obligations increased. Also, very importantly, I am also a true proud Spider, as I received my M.A. from the university.
As a result, imagine my complete dismay and total disbelief when you recently announced the decision to replace soccer with lacrosse. Soccer is the number one sport in the world - no other sport has its universal impact. For many years, the sport thrived at U of R , I remember attendances of 2,000 and more for games against UVA and William and Mary. In many ways U of R was at the center of the dramatic growth of the sport in the Richmond area. This was definitely reflected when the NCAA Tournament was successfully held in Richmond bringing national attention to the university.
By 2012, many in the local soccer community felt that the program was lacking in direction - the appointment of Leigh Cowlishaw, even as an interim coach, definitely gained the attention of the community. Finally, many of us in the soccer community felt that the university was renewing its commitment to a sport that had 'lost its way'. My middle son, Evan, plays for Longwood who played U of R a week ago - I was impressed by Leigh Cowlishaw's work with the team, I left the game saying to myself, "In time, his coaching ability, commitment and love for U of R will turn this program around."
The rational that U of R wants to appeal to students in the North East was laughable and almost ridiculed by many Richmonders and Spider fans that I have spoken with. If that is the case, then mover the university to Boston or Hartford. Dropping the world's most popular sport at a prestigious university makes absolutely no sense.
Most importantly, the university has now created a special moment when it can reconsider its decision. Those people that have failed to grasp the true impact can now make an even better decision by restoring men's soccer as a varsity sport. Reconsidering a decision that does not reflect the university in a good light can only be a positive - I hope you have the courage to do so.