Big Goals: ORU Alum Becomes Youngest Pro Soccer GM
How does a soccer-loving boy from Wales wind up in Tulsa as the youngest General Manager of a professional soccer team (aka “football club”) in the United States? For Wayne Farmer, the journey was more circuitous than you might imagine.
“I went straight after graduating into medical sales,” said Farmer, a 2015 graduate of Oral Roberts University’s College of Business. “Medical sales intrigued me, obviously, and people were telling me, as far as the opportunities, how it was a very good maturation role—you can learn a lot of things quickly.”
Medical sales was not, as one would guess, Farmer’s end career goal.
“Going through school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Farmer, “but my dream role was always to be in professional sports.”
Farmer’s dream came true in 2018 when he was named GM of the Tulsa Roughnecks of the USL Championship League. Not bad for a kid who grew up five miles from the English border in Knighton, Powys, Wales.
“I was told ‘no,’” said Farmer of his first attempt to leap into professional sports. “I was at a professional club as a kid and I was told I wasn’t good enough to be offered a professional contract like the 0.5% of kids that do. I was with the other 99.5%. It was the end of my world.”
Farmer was sixteen years old.
“Luckily I had kept my studies up at the same time… which helped me get to ORU, which helped me mature to land my dream job right now.”
A graduate in business who also played for the Golden Eagles, Farmer has plenty of praise for the faculty and coaches who spoke into his life during his tenure at ORU.
“People in the business school were fantastic,” said Farmer. “The classes shaped me a lot. Just good individuals my junior and senior year that I could ask questions and get real-life advice. The faculty truly understand the scary jump of graduating and going into the real world, and they were very helpful through that. Likewise the soccer coaches—they weren’t just there to teach me soccer.”
The transplant has no plans to move very far away from his alma mater anytime soon, as he and the rest of the leadership team at the Roughnecks have big goals for the upstart football club.
We want [the Roughnecks] to become a thing you can’t miss on the calendar,” said Farmer. “We want to support the city that supports us. We are equally putting as much time into the community through youth soccer, youth clinics, volunteering, supporting the food bank. We’re going to support the city that’s making us successful. That’s our responsibility.”
As Farmer and the Roughnecks work toward increased success, he is definitely embodying ORU’s whole-person ethic.
“I have aspirations to grow. Tulsa’s home to me now, and it’s important to me that the Tulsa soccer market does well. I want to grow as a person and make sure wherever I am continues to grow.”