Lynne Wingle-Colvin lives with her husband of six months on a 35-foot Catalina sailboat in Ventura Harbor, so she should know something about the plight of the developing Oxnard College women's soccer program, which has been taking on water for the better part of three years.
Two years ago, the program was inaugurated with an equipment room filled with soccer balls, uniforms, shin guards and nets. But a qualified coach could not be found in time and, ultimately, there were no players.
Last year, the program was upgraded to include a coach, Stephen Wong. But still there were no players and, again, no season. Wong was late in recruiting and never filled the roster. He was released, according to Oxnard Athletic Director Don Brockett.
Twice Oxnard made plans to join the South Coast Conference--the only junior college women's soccer league in Southern California--and twice Brockett had to back out.
"That was a little embarrassing," Brockett said. "I hope it doesn't happen again."
This season, Wingle-Colvin, 25, is standing boldly on the bow, bailing bucket in hand, determined to bring the first women's junior college team to Ventura County. It will be her job to batten the hatches of an operation that sprung serious leaks on its maiden voyages.
The team will not be eligible for the conference championship this season. That, however, has not dampened the spirit of Wingle-Colvin, a blonde, blue-eyed track and field and soccer athlete who has spent the past month recruiting potential players from the county.
Wingle-Colvin attended Camarillo and Rio Mesa highs, Moorpark College and Idaho State. She still holds school records in four track and field events at Idaho State and was named most valuable player twice at Moorpark and twice at Idaho State. She is the sister of former National Football League (Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers) and Rio Mesa High lineman Blake Wingle.
But now she is setting out in the--for her--uncharted waters of coaching college soccer.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," Wingle-Colvin said while relaxing on the veranda of Camarillo's Los Posas Swim Club, where she works part time as an instructor. "I'm still recruiting, still looking for girls who are interested. I think it's just letting the public know that we are starting up a soccer team so they are aware of the program."
In 1987, there were 12 women's junior college soccer programs in California, according to a commissioner's report. Eight are in Southern California. There were 43 men's teams, including Oxnard's, the only one in the county.
The cost of beginning a program has been prohibitive, other county junior colleges have decided. Especially when finding enough players to field a team might be difficult.
"We took a survey at our place and we didn't seem to have enough interest to merit starting one, men or women," Ventura College Athletic Director Jerry Dunlap said. "It would cost $14,000 to $17,000 for us to start a men's or women's program, and we came to the conclusion that the cost was not worth the interest."
Brockett, however, said Oxnard has spent approximately $2,000, not including the salary for Wingle-Colvin, who also was hired as the women's track and field coach.
Wingle-Colvin said she has received oral commitments from six players, and there are still more than two months before the first match. For two hours a night, she calls coaches and prospective players for leads. She has also littered high school bulletin boards with announcements of pending practices.
"It's a definite challenge," Wingle-Colvin said of recruiting, of which she first got a taste as an assistant track coach at Idaho State in 1985-86. "It's hard talking to athletes that you don't even know. But I know there's a lot of women out there who want to play."
Gina Duarte, for example, would have continued to play club soccer had Wingle-Colvin not come along. She would have attended Moorpark and played softball. Instead, Duarte, a goalie who has not been scored upon in the past three years of American Youth Soccer Organization competition, will attend Oxnard to play soccer.
According to state regulations, Duarte would be eligible to play softball for Moorpark if she wanted because Oxnard does not field a softball team. As Santa Clara High's shortstop and leadoff hitter last season, Duarte batted .480. Yet she does not want to give up soccer.
"There are a lot of girls like myself who like to play soccer, but there are no college teams," Duarte said. "It gives us a chance to play a sport in college.
"I think people are noticing that the girls are as competitive as the boys, except the boys are bigger. But somebody has finally taken the time to take a chance on the girls."
Some would say the girls have earned their opportunity. Ventura and Buena highs each started a girls' soccer program two years ago. Buena won the Southern Section 4-A Division title last season.
Ventura High Coach Chris Mikels called the establishment of Oxnard's program "a natural progression."
"There are a lot of great girl soccer players here who do not have the exposure to make it to the four-year level," Mikels said. "Oxnard College will help the exposure. The girls are just starting to see a continuity of soccer after junior high school, and now they'll see it after high school."
Brockett, Oxnard's athletic director, hopes that that is the case. He sees the fledgling program as a service to an untapped wealth of local soccer talent.
"I think there's interest out there," Brockett said. "I really do."
Wingle-Colvin will find out soon enough. For the first time, there is something in the air. And, it might just be the stiff tail wind for which women's soccer has yearned.