At A Glance
» Arkansas Record: 99-61-18 ( 8 Seasons)
» SEC Coach of the Year: 2019
» SEC Defender of the Year selection: Haley VanFossen – 2019
» SEC Freshman of the Year selection: Anna Podojil – 2019
» NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
» SEC Tournament Appearances: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
» SEC Tournament Final Appearances: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
» United Soccer Coaches Academic Team Awards: 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
» 2 United Soccer Coaches All-America Third Team selections
» 2 All-Southeast Region First Team selections
» 3 All-Southeast Region Second Team selections
» 9 NSCAA All-South Region selections
» 6 SEC All-Conference First Team selections
» 10 SEC All-Conference Second Team selections
» 12 SEC All-Tournament selections
» 3 SEC All-Freshman Team selection
» 105 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll selections
» 1 Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-American (Ashleigh Ellenwood – Third Team, 2014)
» 1 Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 selection (Ashleigh Ellenwood – First Team, 2014)
» 1 NSCAA Senior College Women’s Scholar All-America Team selection (Jessi Hartzler, 2016)
Colby Hale enters his ninth season as head soccer coach at the University of Arkansas after being named to the position on Dec. 21, 2011.
Since Hale took over the program, the Razorbacks have reached the NCAA Tournament six times, the only times the program has ever reached the postseason. He’s also overseen 14 all-region players, 16 all-conference selections, one Academic All-American, one scholar All-American, and 105 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll selections.
Hale led the Razorbacks to the program’s first conference title in 2019, tying a program record with eight SEC wins. Arkansas reached as high as No. 6 in the United Soccer Coaches poll, ultimately securing a top-10 finish in the NCAA RPI at the end of the season. In a campaign that saw Arkansas knock off top-ranked North Carolina, Hale became the first Arkansas coach to be named SEC Coach of the Year. Hale and the Razorbacks were first in the conference in goals (62), assists (63) and points (187). Anna Podojil and Haley VanFossen became the first All-Americans in program history and were the first SEC Defender and Freshman of the Year in Razorback history.
In 2018, the Razorbacks recorded their third-straight 10+-win season after going 14-5-4 and 6-3-1 in SEC play. They also earned a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament and made a run to the tournament final for the third-straight year. The regular season was filled with results against top-25 opponents coupled with an unbeaten record in Fayetteville, a first in school history. The Razorbacks earned draws against No. 9 West Virginia and No. 25 Mississippi State, while also defeating No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 21 Auburn. Those four results were more than any other team in the SEC.
With its strong home record, Arkansas was named one of the 32 host sites for the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament where it played and defeated Sun Belt-champion Little Rock, 5-1, to advance to the second round. It was the second time in school history that Razorback Field has been named a host site for an NCAA Tournament match and both have occurred under Hale.
Hale’s teams have shown a postseason prowess throughout his seven years, as the Razorbacks have been a force in November, especially over the last three seasons. Including reaching the SEC Tournament in six of the last seven seasons, Arkansas has reached the SEC Tournament final three-straight times under Hale, in 2016, 2017 and 2018, a feat that hadn’t been matched since the Florida teams between 2010-14.
The 2017 tournament run might have been the most improbable as the Razorbacks entered the conference tournament as the eight seed, but rolled off wins over nine-seed Ole Miss (1-0), one-seed South Carolina (1-0), and four-seed Vanderbilt (1-1, 4-2 on PK’s) before bowing out against two-seed Texas A&M (2-1). Arkansas became the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the tournament final and the run helped secure the school’s ninth 10-win season and fourth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Attendance at Razorback Field has also seen an uptick since Hale’s arrival and each year, the numbers continue to rise.
In 2018, Arkansas finished 10th in the nation in total attendance (13,538), fourth-best in the SEC and 10th in average attendance (1,354). The 2018 home opener against top-ranked Penn State was one for the record books as Razorback fans set a single-game attendance record with 3,401 in the seats, the fifth-straight season the single-game attendance record has been broken.
The 2016 season had plenty of historic moments for Hale and the Razorbacks. Arkansas finished the year 18-5-1 and ranked No. 19 on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top-25 poll. The team peaked at No. 11 following school-record eight-straight wins from Sept. 9, 2016 to Oct. 9, 2016. The 18 wins were also a school record for victories in a single season.
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 catapult 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, 2016. He would later lead the team to its fourth SEC Tournament, where it 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 a 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.