By Marya Barlow

More than a chance to practice and play competitively, the Men’s and Women’s Soccer Clubs at CSUCI offer students the benefits of new friendships, a campus family, inspiring mentors, sharper skills, and a way to channel their passion for soccer into victories against some of Southern California’s top-ranked teams.

“Being part of the team has been a real blessing,” said Kacey Ramirez, president of the Women’s Soccer Club. “I played soccer my whole life and it’s not just a club – it's a competitive league. We play against amazing teams like UCSB, UCLA, CSUN and USC. Being a part of the team and watching us grow has been life-changing. Soccer has brought me so many friendships I never thought I’d have.”

The arrival of COVID-19 and halt of matches in the West Coast Soccer Association was a disappointing setback in an otherwise promising season for both teams. Before campuses closed in mid-March, the men’s team had completed five of seven games in its season, with two wins, two losses and a draw–ranking third in its conference. The women’s team was only three games into a nine-game season, with a win over the Claremont Colleges and losses to UCLA and UCSB.

“It’s really disappointing because we showed a lot of promise,” Ramirez said.

The women’s team, founded in 2012, has 26 players on the roster, and holds games most weekends during the fall and spring semesters. With the addition of head coach Luis Gonzales in fall 2019, the women have grown under the guidance of a veteran player and coach.

“Soccer is his passion and he has passed his passion for the game on to girls on the team,” said Tia Navarez, vice president of the women’s team. “He has helped develop the skills of our players, initiated strategies and plays during games, and held girls accountable for missing practice. He always believes in the players and helps keep our heads up during difficult games.”

The men’s team, founded in 2011, has 24 players on its roster. Coach Ricardo Rico, an alumnus (’14 Psychology) and Educational Opportunity Program Counselor at CSUCI, says he’s proud of the men’s team not only for its performance on the field but also as citizen-scholars. Many players on both teams serve as peer mentors, resident advisers, orientation leaders, and in other campus leadership roles.

Rico and Gonzales volunteer their time as coaches out of a passion for the game, the students, and the CSUCI principle of service-based leadership.

“I hope that the students see me as more than a coach, but as a mentor,” said Rico. “It’s rewarding being ranked third in our conference or getting that big win against CSU Bakersfield, but for me, the best opportunity has been to help them grow academically and emotionally. They see themselves as scholars and not just soccer players. Many of them are the first in their family to do that. For me, that’s the part I’ve enjoyed the most.”

CSUCI Men's and Women's Soccer clubsReturn to the Table of Contents
© Spring 2020 / Volume 25 / Number 1 / Biannual

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