The Greenville Triumph, a brand new professional soccer team, entered into a two-year partnership with Bob Jones University in late January.
The Triumph is a pro team in Division III of the U.S. soccer-sanctioned professional soccer leagues. Athletic director Neal Ring met Chris Lewis, president of the Triumph, through a BJU alumnus.
The two sat down for lunch together, and a partnership began to form. A visit to campus confirmed Lewis’ desire to partner with BJU. The Greenville Triumph will use BJU as a practice facility until the team is able to establish its “forever home” in Greenville, according to Ring. This agreement will last two years, possibly three.
Currently, as a Division III team, the Triumph is two steps down from Major League Soccer. However, they are looking to join Division II in the future. According to Ring, both the students of Bob Jones University and the Triumph benefit from this partnership.
Already, the Fremont Fitness Center has begun to change. The dividing wall in the men’s fitness center has been pushed back approximately 15 feet. In the larger two-thirds of the fitness center, the students’ aerobic and strength and conditioning areas are being combined. The other third of the fitness center is reserved for the Triumph.
The Triumph will be installing a locker room as well as strength and conditioning equipment for their own use. Two racquetball courts are being used as office space. An athletic training room is being installed as well.
The entrance to the FFC was changed because the lobby is being renovated into a player lounge for the Greenville team. Couches and televisions are being added to increase comfort. The student side of the FFC is also receiving some new equipment.
According to Ring, a strength and conditioning company looked at the space in the FFC and gave suggestions on how to maximize it. All upgrades will be done at no cost to BJU, and once the Triumph has their “forever home,” the upgraded facilities will be available for the University’s use.
In addition to the FFC, the Triumph is using the practice fields beginning in February. The team practices early in the morning, and therefore the practices will not interfere with any events such as summer camps, Bruins’ soccer practices or society soccer in the fall.
The Triumph’s games will start on March 29 and will end in early October. They might occasionally use the Davis Field House pool or indoor track as well.
The Triumph and BJU exchanged schedules to try to avoid conflicts. “[BJU events are] being carefully monitored and scheduled around,” Ring said. “We’re trying to impact as little as we can of the status quo.”
Ring and the Triumph have talked about other possible benefits specifically for BJU students and constituents. These could include scrimmages hosted on stadium field, player signings at games, special game ticketing or interactions at soccer camps and Bruins practices.
Students may also be able to take part in game day operations, possible internships and other job opportunities.
“We will maximize the opportunities for our students, recruits and players,” Ring said. “We want to get the most benefit out of [the partnership] for the students.” Ring believes there will be knowledge and information shared between the coaching staffs of the Triumph and the Bruins.
However, the Triumph will determine the level of integration they will have with BJU. A benefit for BJU as a university is the connection to what could be a powerful brand in the community.
The connection to the Triumph, and the claim of being the team’s first training home, will open opportunities to connect with the Greenville community. The brand will also help recruiting for BJU’s intercollegiate sports.
Ring, President Pettit and the executive board believe that BJU’s partnership with the Greenville Triumph will be positive for both parties, as well as give BJU a new opportunity to minister to the community as good hosts.