Competitive Soccer That Fits Student Life
Students looking for organized physical exercise and social activities centered on compromise and teamwork can find them in the UC Irvine Intercollegiate Soccer Club.
It involves scrimmages, games, pregame pasta dinners, bonfires and beach trips. The UCI Soccer Club gives students the chance to play soccer year-round at a recreational level or competitive intercollegiate level.
This year about 25 women and 40 men are active participants in the club. In the last two years it has won ‘The Best Sports Club on Campus’ award from the dean of students.
Aaron Young, a co-founder of the club and president in 2003 and 2004, said the club is centered on ‘beat passion’ where ‘every player has a direct connection with each other that is the love for the game.’
The UCI Soccer Club was established in the spring of 2002 and led by Don Agusto. Club Co-Founder Ro Gupta was surprised to find about 60 people show up on the first day of practice when they were only expecting 10 to 15 players.
The men’s competitive team was formed in the winter of that year and they won their inaugural game against UCLA, 3-0. The women’s competitive team formed in the fall of 2003. For the 2004 fall season the men’s team has a 2-4-3 record and the women’s team holds a 3-5-2 record. UCI Soccer Club President Alexandra Harris said, ‘You don’t have to have any experience to come out.’
According to Jon Lui, the vice president of the club and captain of the men’s competitive team, the coaches and captains choose players ‘[based on] skill and based on how hard they work.’ Tryouts are held for the men’s team at the beginning of each quarter.
The club has gained popularity by word of mouth and quarterly publicizing, which entails setting up booths and handing out fliers on Ring Road.
Young said, ‘There’s always been a common goal where every person can motivate themselves to accomplish, which brings every member together.’
Cassie Rush, a second-year undeclared sociology major with a minor in education who is a two-year member, said, ‘I joined the club for involvement in school, a sense of community, love for soccer, to get in shape and it’s fun to kick it with the girls.’
Rush described the club as her catharsis and her teammates as some of her best friends at UCI.
Combined recreational and competitive team practices are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. and competitive team practices are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
Currently the UCI Soccer Club practices have focused on its competitive men’s and women’s teams, preparing them for tournaments. Because of the focus on the competitive teams this year, there have been fewer practices inclusive to players of all experience levels.
However, the club hopes to increase the number of recreational practices after the tournaments’ end. For potential club members, simply show up in running attire and prepare to scrimmage for up to two hours. Cleats and shin guards are recommended. There is a $30 fee for the club.
Proceeds are used for uniforms and equipment, trainers and referees for tournaments, and social functions such as barbeques and pasta feeds.
Blake Lucchesi, a second-year electrical engineering major, is not only a member of the club but also a co-captain of the men’s competitive team, said, ‘It was a great way to build a group of friends with a common interest and I was able to play competitive soccer at the same time.’