With its eighth annual matchup last Friday, Socctoberfest has cemented itself as an important tradition for Creighton soccer and the Omaha community.
But the event has proven to be more than a full stein of beer and a meal ticket. The annual double-header serves as much-needed energy in the locker room and a catalyst for local fans at the beginning of the season.
Since its inception in 2012, Socctoberfest has grown into an anticipated fall tradition for Bluejay soccer and Creighton athletics as a whole.
This year brought 1,246 fans to the wom- en’s matchup and 4,818 to the men’s game later in the evening. For the men’s team, Socctoberfest games have been some of the most attended in team history. Their 2013 match- up against Columbia drew 5,102 fans, while their game against Cal State Northridge saw 4,907 fans. These games make up the 10th and 11th-largest crowds in program history, respectively.
Socctoberfest is still a relatively new tradition in the history of Creighton soccer. Adrian Rider, assistant athletic director for marketing and ticketing at Creighton, said the goal around building Socctoberfest was an event that was innovative and unique.
“The goal was a celebration of both men’s and women’s soccer. What could we do that could be festive; what could we do that was new and different?” Rider also said proper planning and execution were prioritized.
“When you do something, you want to do it right.”
Today’s high profile Socctoberfest had humble beginnings.
It started as a small set of tents outside of Morrison Stadium on 19th street, accepting only walk-up sales. When brainstorming for the event, Creighton athletics reached out to the popular Blackstone bar, The Crescent Moon, whose Oktoberfest weekend has been a popular Omaha destination for more than 15 years, according to their website.
Rider said the initial hope was that a ticket, a full stein and a meal would draw 100 fans.
“Something special happened that first night,” Rider said, and Socctoberfest only continued to grow as the University invested further in the event, eventually bringing it inside of Morrison Stadium so festivities could continue through the game.
Rider emphasized the importance that partnerships play in a successful Socctoberfest year after year. He described the event as the result of close coordination between Creighton athletics, Sodexo and facilities management
Perhaps Socctoberfest’s greatest strength to Creighton soccer is the increased community engagement and fan energy it brings to Morrison Stadium. Women’s head coach Ross Paule noted the excitement it brings to both teams as something unique in college soccer.
“We look forward to it every year. The atmosphere here, the hype around it, it’s a great event for Creighton soccer, men’s and women’s. And it’s something that I would say rivals any atmosphere in the college game.”
Men’s head coach Johnny Torres seconded Paule’s sentiment and stressed the importance of the event to engaging with Omaha fans.
“I think it’s a great way to give back to our community.”
Not only does Socctoberfest bring crowds and energy, but that energy brings tangible results.
So much so, that neither the men’s nor women’s teams have lost a Socctoberfest game, combining for a 13-0-1 record over eight years.
A Socctoberfest win has been likened to somewhat of a team tradition.
“Knock on wood, but it’s obviously really good to keep that tradition going, whether it’s for the fans or the team or the community as a whole,” said senior midfielder, Luke Haakenson.
“It’s such a good way to kick off our season at home.”
The teams’ Socctoberfest victories have been both numerous and decisive. Men’s soccer has outscored its Socctoberfest opponents 16-3, and women’s outpaced foes 17-4.
This year’s games were no different. The women’s team defeated Iowa State 1-0 off an 87th minute goal from freshman forward Skylar Heinrich, and the men’s team knocked off No. 21 Akron 2-1.