Alma begins soccer program with first varsity game set for 2019.

When the Alma Airedales announced they were adding soccer to their list of sports, they didn’t have to go far to find someone to be the first coach.

Cory Sturdivant, an Ozark native who taught at Alma in 2007-08 after doing his Student Internship there in ‘05-06, will coach both the Alma girls and boys squads. Alma will play a junior varsity schedule in 2018 and field their first varsity teams in ‘19.

Alma athletics director and assistant superintendent Dr. Mike McSpadden said Sturdivant will teach Computer Technology classes at Alma Middle School and assists with Doug Loughridge’s senior high football team.

“When I first sat down and talked to Dr. McSpadden, it’s definitely going to be starting a program from scratch, but it’s also a chance to make things from the very beginning the way I like them. I’m definitely excited about starting the program from the ground up.”

Sturdivant spent three years as an assistant coach at Dardanelle before taking over at Hot Springs in 2012. He’s 55-19 over the previous four seasons, with his 2016 squad winning the 5A state championship.

Hot Springs’ current squad is 13-3.

“He has been extremely successful as a soccer coach, including winning the 5A state championship last spring,” McSpadden said. “He is exactly the kind of person that we want to be a member of our staff at Alma, and he will be an asset to our school and our community.”

Alma doesn’t yet have uniforms, let alone a roster.

“He understands the process of building a successful soccer program from the ground up will take patience and hard work,” McSpadden said. “The fact that a defending state championship coach would want to join us and being this effort speaks volumes about the school district and community of Alma.”