For the past few years, the men’s club soccer team at UTSA has been operated by students. Former student Mason Rankin began the club but has stepped down to allow the organization to be a student-run league. The current head coach is senior Asael Campos, a political science major with no prior coaching history. He was brought into the club by friends on the team who knew they were in need of a student-coach. Campos had the skills from high school, two semesters at Northwest Vista College (NVC) and his childhood which the team believes will be beneficial to their spring season.
The men’s club soccer team plays a spring and fall season. Their fall season consists of games and tournaments. They would consider the fall semester their regular season and the spring semester their off-season training. Currently, they had their first spring term game on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Texas State University.
“We have a great set of guys, a lot from last semester and new for this semester. What we try to do is incorporate them and have almost like a fraternity with them. To have a brotherhood so that when one guy needs something, they have another guy to ask,” Campos said.
Last semester, the team performed well. Right now, Campos is utilizing this spring semester as a time for him to see where the players stand with their determination and dedication to the team, their skill-set and overall mindset. This spring, they have a smaller group than they did last semester. They typically hover around 40 players and they currently have about 27.
“Most importantly, I want to make sure they are focused in school,” Campos said. “Or if they have problems at home, we understand.”
One of the major benefits of being on a club team versus UTSA affiliated sports is the relaxed environment. The team acknowledges this as a volunteer activity but treats it as a class. They show up to practices, prove their capabilities and play in games.
Although the club is not an official UTSA Athletics team, the coaching staff has found ways to give their players opportunities to excel in soccer and potentially make a career out of the sport. To provide the players the opportunity, the coach has the players practice with United Premier Soccer League (UPSL), who practice on the UTSA fields immediately following the men’s soccer club team on the weekdays. This allows the next step to be available for those players who would like to pursue soccer on a professional level.
This team is entirely composed of volunteers, which makes team commitment entirely up to the players. Last semester, there was a tournament in North Texas; however, not many players went. This meant the players that did show up had to be switched around and played positions they were unskilled in.
“This semester, we want to get the commitment out of the guys, we want to make sure they are showing up to the games and practices,” Campos said. “If they can’t, we want them to let us know.”
Kicking off their season, the men’s soccer club fell 2-0 to the Bobcats on Feb. 28. Throughout the night the ‘Runners had ample opportunities to score, but were unable to add to the scoresheet.
During halftime, Campos and the team changed their strategy and went into the second half with a new formation which did not play out in the way they had anticipated. Immediately into the second half, the ‘Runners were scored on by a low driven shot around the outside of the box. A few minutes later, the team conceded a penalty and went 2-0.
Following this, UTSA attempted to play the way they did in the first half, which helped the ‘Runners guard themselves from more shots-on-goal by the Bobcats.
“We played a difficult game, but we learned a lot about which formation style works best with us,” Campos said following their first game.
Find the ‘Runners at their second game of the season against NVC on Thursday, March 7.