By Adam Stanek
When you come to a MACU soccer game, you can always find Mike and Helen Dill sitting front and center, cheering for the Evangels. For the last five years, the Dills have been overwhelming supporters of MACU soccer — so much so that they paid for brand new lights and a scoreboard that were installed at the soccer field last year.
The couple are so often seen around MACU that they are frequently asked how they came to be a part of the campus family. Many presume them to be alumni, employees or the proud parents or grandparents of an Evangel. The truth is, the Dills had never even been on the campus of Mid-America Christian University before one chance meeting five years ago.
It was a Monday afternoon in the fall of 2016 when the Dills went to a local Braum’s to get ice cream. They were sitting at a table when Mike Dill spotted two young women come to the counter to order food. He said to his wife, “You see those two young ladies over there? They play soccer.”
Helen Dill replied, “How can you tell? They’re not wearing any uniforms.” Her husband told her that they had the look of soccer players — and he should know. He had spent a substantial amount of time playing soccer in his youth and both nationally and internationally as an adult.
The two young women took a seat near the Dills, so the couple decided to introduce themselves and find out where the girls played soccer. Those student-athletes were none other than one of MACU’s all-time leading scorers and MACU Team of the Decade honoree Brittney Stephens and two-year standout defender Taylor Moore.
Stephens and Moore told them they played at MACU and had just finished practice. They extended an invitation to the Dills to come watch their game against Baker the following day. Mike Dill said the game was great, but it was the actions of the coaches and players that resulted in the couple falling in love with MACU that day.
“At the start of the game, the players and coaches bowed their heads and prayed. They all stood for the National Anthem and then met again on the field and prayed together,” Mike Dill recalled. “After the game, the players and coaches of both teams met and prayed together and after the prayer, every MACU player and coach came to us, shook our hands and thanked us for coming and asked us to come to the next game.”
He said that he and his wife were so overwhelmed by the gesture that they came to the next game, and the game after that. Since that day in 2016, the Dills have watched every MACU men’s and women’s soccer game either in-person or online. As the Dills and the team started to feel like family, six weeks later Stephens and Moore approached the couple to ask for their help.
Brothers Andy and Oscar Ochoa, who played for the MACU men’s soccer team, were struggling financially and in danger of dropping out of school due to the financial burden.
After discussing it, the Dills decided to provide room and board for the Ochoa brothers for the next six weeks so they could make it to the end of the semester. Those six weeks ended up turning into a year and a half as the Ochoas stayed with the Dills until they graduated in May of 2018.
Over the next few years, the Dills built a strong relationship with then-soccer coaches Zach Bice and Evan Dresel. They had worked closely with the coaches in planning and funding for items that would greatly enhance the collegiate playing experience for the student-athletes and the fans. Those projects included the lights, which have allowed for more parents and fans to attend games, as well as the scoreboard, concession stand and ticket office that were recently constructed at the northwest end of the field. The Dills, along with MACU athletic administration and coaching staff, are continuing to look at other future projects, such as bricked dugouts with individual seating for teams, cantilever shading for fans and making improvements to the game and practice fields.
“Mike and Helen have generously served our student-athletes, teams and athletic department for the better part of a decade,” said MACU Athletic Director Marcus Moeller. “It is not just the financial implications of their support, but far more the selfless acts of service and kindness that have forever knit us together with this incredible couple. I am forever indebted for their steadfast and loyal support of the MACU Athletics family.”
Mike Dill said that he and his wife have seen the soccer programs grow by leaps and bounds since that day they shared ice cream with two student-athletes.
“We have seen the men’s soccer team win four Sooner Athletic Conference championships as well as an NCCAA National Championship and have seen the women’s team win multiple NCCAA Regional Championships,” he said. “We have also rejoiced in the success of the student-athletes with the numerous SAC Player of the Week, Scholar-Athlete and All-American awards that they have won.”
To honor the Dills for their steadfast commitment to MACU Athletics, the soccer field was officially renamed the Mike and Helen Dill Soccer field between games on Aug. 31. The Dills were presented with an autographed jersey and ball signed by all of the current soccer players on both teams.