Soccer Club achieving goals on and off the field

Members of Upper Iowa University’s inaugural Soccer Club team are (kneeling, l-r) Aaron Wheagar, Signey Hilby, Cody Vercellotti, Biraj Khatiwada, James Abotsi; (standing) Clinton Wali, Mridul Paudel, Josh Norris, Brett Cornforth, Carissa Gelinas, Hafis Mensah, Jared Newman. Team member Asim Poudel is not pictured.

The Upper Iowa University Soccer Club achieved a number of goals not only on the field, but also in laying a solid foundation in the club’s inaugural season.

While placing fourth in the nine team Cedar Valley Adult Soccer Association (CVASA) Co-Ed League, the first-year organization at UIU was led by club advisor Ashley Artist and president Brett Cornforth. In addition to Cornforth, team members included students James Abotsi, Carissa Gelinas, Signey Hilby, Hafis Mensah, Josh Norris, Mridul Paudel, Asim Poudel, Cody Vercellotti, Clinton Wali, Biraj Khatiwada and Aaron Wheagar.

“The initial goal was to establish an organized soccer club on the Fayette campus for students interested in playing more than just pick-up games,” said Artist. “After forming the team, we joined the Cedar Valley Adult Soccer Association in an effort to schedule matches that would provide additional motivation for organized practices and potentially increase the overall interest in the new club.

“Brett has been a great leader and exceptional communicator in keeping the club organized and its members motivated,” she added, while also expressing her appreciation toward Jared Newman, a UIU Rec Center intern, and his assistance in coaching and transporting the team to the Cedar Valley Sportsplex in Waterloo. “I feel all of the participating students not only benefitted from having another on-campus activity to regularly participate in, but also in finding another group of people to hang out with and who share their passion for soccer.”

“I went through my entire freshman year at UIU hardly playing the sport that I love. So when I saw soccer listed as a new club sport at the University, I was immediately interested,” Cornforth explained. “I believe athletics and other recreational activities are a great way to stay healthy both physically and mentally. College life can be stressful and staying active is a great way to take your mind off of things for a while”

Currently a junior biology major, Cornforth noted that he believes the soccer club is especially gratifying for former high school athletes, like himself, who do not continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. As team captain of Rochester John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn., he was a two-time Big 9 All-conference selection and was named Academic All-Conference following his senior year of competition.

“I knew this year that we were getting a late start to being competitive, so I just wanted us to set a strong foundation for the future,” he said. “A fair amount of people are required to field a full team and we need to continue cultivating interest amongst the student body as we move forward. An earlier start in preparing for the second year of the program is only going to make us stronger.”

With only one graduating senior on the current UIU Soccer Club roster, the club president is eagerly anticipating next fall. Eventually, Cornforth hopes the UIU Soccer Club will have the opportunity to schedule intercollegiate competitions against other club programs, and possibly compete in tournaments at a regional or even national level.

The Peacock Soccer Club practices at 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the UIU Recreation Center. During league play, the team travels each Wednesday evening to the Cedar Valley Sportsplex. For additional information, contact Ashley Artist at 563-425-5668 or

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