| New Coach Recruits for Women’s Soccer |
Athletic programs have flourished at the University of St. Thomas. Last year, as part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, UST experienced victories as the men’s basketball team won Red River Athletic Conference championship; women’s volleyball advanced to the NAIA national championship tournament, and men’s golf won the RRAC tournament. Now, UST is trying its hand with a new program: women’s soccer. To help recruit and train a championship-caliber team, UST looks to Nikola Barjaktarevic, the former head women’s soccer coach for University of Texas – Brownsville.
“As we grow as an athletic department, women’s soccer was a natural progression for us,” said Todd Smith, head men’s basketball coach and athletic director. “Academically, women’s soccer is a very good sport and there are so many great female soccer players in the city of Houston.”
Barjaktarevic is not new to building a program from the ground up. While at UTB, he successfully built the women’s soccer program, a process that culminated in the team’s advancement to the Elite 8 round of the NAIA National Tournament this season, a current national rank of No. 9 by the NAIA and an impressive career record of 79-27-7. His approach, seeking student athletes with character and a passion for their sport, has proved successful, and he plans to use the same approach as he begins recruiting this fall.
Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, Barjaktarevic has played soccer his entire life. He played in Belgrade until the age of 21 when he moved to Jackson, Tenn., to play as an outside left defender for Union University. While at Union University he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was acting team captain for one of his two seasons there.
“I want to have a successful program,” Barjaktarevic said. “When I say successful, I mean not only winning on the field, but winning off the field by doing things the right way and graduating and sending these young ladies off into the world. We teach them a lot both on and off the field. It is not totally about soccer; it is about life.”
The UST women’s s soccer team will take the field in fall 2014.
The UST athletic department competes in the Red River Athletic Conference within the NAIA. During the 2013-2014 season they will have student athletes competing in men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s basketball.