On a warm evening in October, Martin Calderon, captain of the Texas A&M University-San Antonio soccer team, shouted words of encouragement to members of his soccer team. “Look at that teamwork yes! Do y’all see that? This is perfect!” he said. The players, practicing ‘keeper wars’ and other drills were preparing to dominate the University of the Incarnate Word’s soccer team on Oct. 21.
As A&M-San Antonio grows its recreational sports department, more students are experiencing the opportunity to shape and play on intramural and club sports teams. In the beginning, the university’s soccer team, A&M-SA Football Club, started with just three players and within a year the team grew to 24 members.
“I started practice at 6 o’clock in the morning with three guys so I had a vision to keep going and not giving up,” said David Guerrero, head coach for the team.
The team started practicing outside of the Central Academic Building and now practice Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Palo Alto college.
Trevor Brunet, competitive sports coordinator, said that last year the soccer players formed a probationary club.
“They did all the scheduling, they reached out to all the local soccer clubs, scheduled scrimmages just to get their feet wet and started playing games, so these kids aren’t practicing for no reason,” Brunet said. “When the summer came they really took off.”
“This year they are in the developmental division which means basically it’s a division where new clubs join to see where they are at as far as maintaining the club,” Brunet said.
As the team continues to grow and build a powerful reputation they will join the Lone Star South Conference as well as the Texas Collegiate Soccer Team which is managed by NIRSA.
“They are a lot more competitive,” Brunet added. “They actually compete against other club teams from other universities. Right now, we have 10 total that are either recognized or probationary so it’s grown really quickly since the freshmen have jumped on board. I’m pretty excited about it and looking forward to the future of how fast we are going to grow.”
As a developmental division, the A&M-SA Football Club face opposing teams such as Abilene Christian University, Texas A&M University B team, Texas Tech University B squad, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Trinity University, University of the Incarnate Word and several others.
The team suffered several losses in the first five games. Their current record is 1-3; the only win coming from rival school University of Texas at San Antonio. The team is clearly in the initial stages of what can possibly become a force to be reckoned with but will need support. It is growing fast and is expecting to host games at the A&M-San Antonio campus field soon.
“The first year we only had seven people now we have 24 really good dedicated men out there playing soccer, representing the school at the highest level they possibly can,” Team Captain Calderon said.
While Coach Guerrero is attending class Thursday nights, Calderon takes over as assistant coach to the team where they practice tough drills and test the players’ abilities to their fullest measures. Coach Guerrero has stated five principles for the team to follow on the field and during classes: teamwork, education, respect, sportsmanship, and motivation.
Players love to joke around and make practice enjoyable, but take their time together seriously. Game day is a big deal to them and they want to make sure they succeed.
During the game with Trinity University on Oct. 15, the bleachers were nearly empty with just 15 spectators. Most were close friends or relatives of players. The fan base is lower than players would like, but they know that growth and success takes time.
It was clear that the team was struggling as the Trinity team had countless attempts at scoring. The final score was 7-1. Trinity made it look easy and the frustration on the A&M – SA athletes faces became apparent. But they didn’t give in, physically or mentally.
Soccer fan Gabriel Navarrete, a master’s of science in reading, attended the game with his son in support of the university’s soccer team.
Navarrete said it would help the university’s soccer team if they had better branding and recognition.
“We need to be more prominent,” Navarrete said. “The fact that they have a team is a step forward. We need a free bus ride to game and the banner just so people know who the team is. It’s good for the school as a community and it’s free, a free event. Especially now that they have dorms,” he said.
The following week on Oct. 21, the team traveled to UIW and fought a hard battle, losing 4-0.
Though the team is having a rough first season in terms of securing wins, the players continue to train hard for the next season and many more to come. From a few players, the Club has developed into a team of hardworking men doing what they love to do.
Guerrero is talking about starting a B team or practice squad and maybe one day a Division 1 team.
In the meantime, Brunet is behind the scenes making sure his players have the quality fields and equipment they need.
“That is actually a temporary field but we are planning to expand it because it was on the smaller side for soccer and rugby to be able to host games,” Brunet said.
Recreational sports paid for the expenses of developing the field and plan to expand it to regulation size.
Brunet said his ultimate goal is to keep the soccer and rugby teams on campus so that they can host games. The current fields prevent recreational sports from having to rent space. And the plans for expanding the field, he says, will provide students the opportunity to watch home games on their own turf.
Want to learn more about sports on campus?
Department of Recreational Sports
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Central Academic Building (CAB) Suite 103