Evangel Profile

Vision Sneak Peek: Meet the man who has 100 days to launch Evangel Soccer

May 15, 2015

Bruce Deaton, director of soccer operations, is bringing all the details together for Evangel’s newest athletic programs.

Each passing day brings Evangel one step closer to officially kicking off sanctioned soccer for the first time since 1974.

For Bruce Deaton, the countdown might as well have rockets attached to it. Evangel’s director of soccer operations is building two programs from scratch, and as of May 17, he has 100 days to bring all the details together.

Formerly women’s soccer coach and associate athletic director at Louisiana College, Deaton has been tasked to launch the men’s program after a 41-year hiatus, and a women’s program for the first time.

“The position caught my attention because of the plan to start two new programs from scratch,” Deaton said. “That does not come along often in one’s coaching career, if ever.”

Deaton also saw opportunities to return to Springfield, where he lived for a stint 20 years ago, and continue coaching in a Christ-centered environment.

“With the family atmosphere here, my greatest passions are right on this campus: my Christian walk, family and the game of soccer,” Deaton said.

The challenge now is tapping into that atmosphere to produce two competitive programs in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Soccer EUTo that end, Deaton has ventured outside traditional recruiting to add players to both soccer programs. Current Evangel students were invited to evaluation days in April, and 16 players (eight men, eight women) were invited to join the program.

“We continue to add new incoming freshmen and transfer students each week,” Deaton said. “I’m looking forward to stepping on the field with them in August.”

Deaton hopes to be joined by an additional coach in the coming months to help balance the demands of both teams. While the overall aspects of player training and program management are similar, the needs of players from a developmental standpoint can be varied, especially given all the new moving parts.

“There will be shifting gears at times, but I always tell my players: ‘Don’t focus on the work; focus on the reward that comes from the work,’” Deaton said. “In essence, keeping your eyes focused on the finish line, or the goal, can help get you through those tough training moments.”

Deaton learned how to persevere through those tough moments as a Division-I athlete at Marshall University. That experience of taking his talent to the highest level possible has inspired a coaching career with a higher purpose.

“Soccer is my ministry, and to me, collegiate athletics is truly an example of what happens throughout life,” Deaton said. “I love teaching the game and helping players develop, and I honestly believe that we will be a relevant and exciting program by having quality people playing quality soccer.”

Evangel’s soccer programs debut Aug. 25 with a doubleheader at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. The first women’s home game is Sept. 10 against Ecclesia College, and the first men’s home game is Sept. 29 against Central Methodist. Both games will take place at Lake Country Soccer, located at 2334 E. Pythian in Springfield.

For Deaton, the university, and everyone associated with the program, the countdown is on.

Written by Janet Gause for the Spring 2015 edition of Vision Magazine. Look for it in your mailbox in late May.