Colby Hale enters his sixth season as head soccer coach at the University of Arkansas after being named to the position on Dec. 21, 2011.
After a historic 18-5-1 season marked by several program milestones, Hale and Razorback Soccer concluded its 2016 season ranked No. 19 on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top 25 poll after peaking at No. 11 following a school-record eight-straight wins from Sept. 9, 2016 to Oct. 9, 2016.
Hale guided the team to their first win against a top-10 opponent against then-No.2-ranked Duke on Aug. 26 in front of a record-breaking crowd at Razorback Field. Arkansas would also upset then-No. 4-ranked Florida 2-1 on Sept. 16 at home for the program’s first victory against the Gators. These two wins against top-five programs and other quality opponents would catapault Arkansas to its highest NCAA RPI ranking in school history, topping out at No. 9 on Sept. 28.
Hale would also gain the unique honor of being Arkansas’ winningest soccer coach after earning his 46th career win as a Razorback following a 1-0 victory over North Texas on Sept. 11. He would later lead the team to its fourth SEC Tournament, and following wins against Vanderbilt and Auburn in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Arkansas competed in its first SEC Tournament championship match since 1996. The Razorbacks also earned their third NCAA Tournament bid in four years and hosted the program’s first NCAA Tournament match at home in school history.
Soccer completed the 2015 season at 6-11-1. Season highlights included a 2-2 tie in double-overtime against No. 10 South Carolina on Oct. 2, the program’s first result against a top-10 program since 2007; the selection of hybrid defender/midfielder Carly Hoke as the 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year; and senior defender Teni Butler being named by the Razorback Foundation as a Red Tie Co-Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Home attendance was also strong for a second consecutive year, with the all-time attendance mark at Razorback Field topped on Aug. 23 against TCU.
Hale and the Razorbacks finished the 2014 season with a 9-7-6 overall mark, giving the program its first back-to-back winning season since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Arkansas was also the No. 9 seed in the conference tournament and earned the program’s second consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament (second in school history). After picking up a 3-2 overtime victory at Oklahoma in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the Razorbacks fell at No. 3 Stanford, 1-0, in the Round of 32 to end the season.
In just his second season at the helm, Hale posted the most successful season in Razorback soccer history at 15-8-1, leading his team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s 28 year history. In the team’s tournament debut, Hale guided the Razorbacks past Oklahoma State and St. John’s to the final round of 16.
Hale had a plan to take the program to the next level and 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.
The Razorbacks were 4-14-0 and 2-9-0 in the Southeastern Conference the year before Hale arrived on campus (2011). In 2012, with a senior class of just two – Andrea Carlson and Allie Chandler – Hale led the Razorbacks to a 9-10-1 overall record and 6-6-1 finish in the SEC.
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 2-1 at home on Aug. 17 2012. Two days later, the Razorbacks followed up with their first big win of the season by beating Texas 1-0 for the first time in program history in Fayetteville.
Prior to landing the top spot at Arkansas, Hale, one of the nation’s fastest rising assistant coaches, 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 at Conference USA, UCF was 56-11-9 with four league titles.
During 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 at UCF, 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 final National Soccer Coaches Association Continental Tire poll and No. 20 in the RPI rankings against the 11th-toughest schedule in the nation.
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 advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 before the 2011 tournament run.
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 (14). During his tenure at ORU, the team went 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 soccer assistant at Union High School in Tulsa when Union won the 1997 Oklahoma Class 5A state title.
He graduated from Oral Roberts University in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in theology. Hale played for two years in England before lettering three times at Oral Roberts, where he was a two-time team captain.
The husband of wife Brittany and father to son Callen and daughters Charlee and Samantha, Hale has his USSF “A” license, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Distinguished License and NSCAA Advanced National License.