T&F - Women
Courtesy: Athletic Media Relations
Colby Hale is in his second season as soccer coach at the University of Arkansas after being named to the position on Dec. 21, 2011.
Hale set the bar high in his first season at Arkansas. In the 2012 preseason, he talked about the team's "identity" and "blue collar mentality," and how the Razorbacks would be dependent on a team concept and not the play of two or three stars. Hale and the Razorbacks saw the results of that blue collar mentality and hard work pay off with a dramatic turnaround.
In 2011, the Razorbacks were 4-14-0 and 2-9-0 in the Southeastern Conference. In 2012, with a senior class of just two - Andrea Carlson and Allie Chandler - the Razorbacks went 9-10-1 overall and 6-6-1 in the SEC.
"One of the areas where we took a lot of pride is that we were going to be difficult to play against," Hale says. "We were going to be the harder working team and they really bought into that. That's an area where, as a program, we took some steps in terms of changing the culture from competition and training, to expectations to winning games."
That step led to a 4.5 game improvement from 2011, including four more wins in conference play.
Hale became just the third of eight Arkansas soccer head coaches to win his first game as coach, topping Austin Peay at home on Aug. 17, 2-1. The Razorbacks followed two days later with their first big win of the season, beating Texas for the first time in program history, 1-0, in Fayetteville.
"We got better from game to game, learned from our mistakes and handled everything with maturity," Hale says. "It was enjoyable to watch them grow as young ladies and as soccer players. We're proud of them and told them the bar has now been raised in every area - fitness, technical ability, tactics, team cohesion, everything. We're going to use the offseason to get better."
One of the nation’s fastest rising assistant coaches, Hale has helped guide multiple programs to success on the field and in the classroom. He moved to Arkansas after spending the previous nine seasons at the University of Central Florida (UCF), helping the Knights to 130 wins (130-50-22) with six conference championships (four Conference USA, two Atlantic Sun), seven NCAA Tournament bids and eight wins in the postseason. In seven years in Conference USA, UCF was 56-11-9 with four league titles.
In three years at Oral Roberts University, Hale helped lead the Golden Eagles to 38 wins and two conference titles. Academically, all 12 teams he’s worked with as a coach have recorded team grade point averages of 3.0 or better.
In Hale’s nine seasons at UCF, including the last five as associate head coach, the Knights had 19 wins or ties against teams ranked in the top 25, ended the year ranked among the top 25 in the RPI ratings six times and ranked in the top 25 in scoring six times with 398 totals goals scored for an average of 44 per season.
As the recruiting coordinator, he brought in six classes ranked among the nation’s best, including the No. 24 class in 2006 and the No. 39 class in 2008.
The highlight of Hale’s time in Orlando was in 2011 when the Knights reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Florida International, No. 20 Florida and No. 19 North Carolina before falling to No. 6 Wake Forest. UCF finished 13-5-6, and ranked No. 12 in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association Continental Tire poll and No. 20 in the RPI rankings against the 11th-toughest schedule in the nation.
The Knights tied for third in Conference USA at 6-2-3, but they were second in the league in wins and goal differential (plus-13, 36-23). UCF was third in shots (349), points (109), goals (36), assists (37) and shutouts (10).
While 2011 was a banner season, it wasn’t the first big year for Hale and the Knights. In his nine years on the staff, UCF earned seven NCAA Tournament bids and advanced to the second round in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 before the 2011 tournament run.
In 2010, UCF was 15-5-3, won the C-USA regular-season title, beat Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, was ranked No. 16 while playing the 12th-toughest schedule in the country and was 17th in the nation in scoring.
In 2009, UCF won C-USA at 10-1, finished 17-5-1 with a ranking of No. 8 after reaching as high as No. 3, and had wins over No. 4 Florida State and No. 10 Duke.
The 2008 club was 14-6-3 and beat Miami in the first round of NCAA play. In 2007, the Knights were 15-4-4, won a share of the C-USA championship, beat Auburn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and ended the year No. 20 in the final RPI poll.
His first year on the staff in 2003, UCF was 16-5-1 and earned an NCAA bid after winning the Atlantic Sun title. The 2004 squad was 17-4-2, won the Atlantic Sun, had wins over No. 10 Florida and No. 14 Florida State, and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights moved to Conference USA in 2005 and went 12-10 the first year, tying for the league title at 8-1. The 2006 team was 11-6-2 with wins over No. 9 Rice and No. 15 SMU.
Before going to UCF, Hale was an assistant for three years at Oral Roberts. He helped the Golden Eagles win two Mid-Continent Conference regular-season titles and set a school record for wins in 2000 with 14. In his three years, ORU was 38-19-5, including the nation’s longest unbeaten streak of 11 games in 2001.
Hale has also worked as the director of coaching at the Central Tulsa Thunder Soccer Club and as a boys assistant at Union High School in Tulsa when Union won the 1997 Oklahoma Class 5A state title.
Hale, a 1997 graduate of ORU with a bachelor’s in theology, played two years in England before lettering three times at ORU, where he was a two-time team captain.
He has his USSF “A” license, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Distinguished License and NSCAA Advanced National License.