High drop rate raises questions for men’s soccer

by Tim Lone/Staff Writer

The Simpson men’s soccer team will enter next season without some of the players they expected to be coming back. It has been rumored that as many as 10 players will not be returning for next year, but that number has not been confirmed.

The number of players leaving the team did go up over the course of the last few seasons, according to past rosters. Three players left between the 2006 and 2007 seasons, five left between 2007 and 2008 and 10 left between 2008 and 2009.

Junior defender Chris Lindo, a Cedar Rapids native, gave his thoughts to the number of players that have left, and what the outlook is for the team in the upcoming season.

“I don’t know what the situation has been in the past,” Lindo said. “Since I have been here, the guys that we have lost have been a small fraction of the team, which is expected to happen in any program. I do not think that player retention is an issue with our team.”

Coach Mike Wilson issued a statement concerning the potential retention issue. Wilson said there are several things that contribute to players deciding not to play, not just one common denominator.

“Over the years, young men have shared a variety of reasons for arriving at the decision to not participate in soccer,” Wilson said. “Some find the game is above their ability, while others are concerned with the challenge of balancing life, academics and athletics. In addition, the financial obligation of attending a private liberal arts college is a common theme that is shared by student-athletes.”

Senior goalkeeper Jeremy Ward from Norwalk said he worried that several players leaving the team could make recruiting new players challenging.

“I think this has a strong effect on recruiting,” Ward said. “First of all, imagine coming to a visit, only to find out that many members of the team are leaving the team and or school. I would assume one of two things as a recruit; either the coaching is terrible, or the players are not good to work with.”

Ward summed up his thoughts on the matter with just a few words.”Overall, I think recruiting will be a struggle for next year,” Ward said.Ward talked at length about why he thinks some of the players have decided not to return for next season.

“I think that the individuals who are transferring and choosing to get away from soccer do not truly love the game anymore,” Ward said. “Now, whether that is because of coaching, school or other personal reasons I cannot attest.”

Ward did say coaching problems may have contributed to athletes’ decisions to quit.

“I do however believe that some of them are trying to get away from the coach, but I don’t see that as a reason to quit soccer altogether,” Ward said. “Perhaps it is simply an excuse.”

Senior Nick White, a Grimes native, played soccer at Simpson for two and a half years before moving on from the team.

For White, his reasons for leaving the team were more complicated than just not liking the coach. It gave him the opportunity to be more involved with his fraternity.

“I didn’t play soccer because I was going to go pro or anything,” White said. “I played because I liked the game and it just wasn’t fun anymore. It was more of a job than anything. I also wanted to pursue other things like getting more involved with ATO.”

Lindo said that despite many players rumored to be leaving, the team’s outlook for next season is still a very positive one.

“We have a very strong group of returning guys,” Lindo said. “The offseason workouts have been the best since I have been here at Simpson, and the attitude of the team is that we are going to work hard.”

Wilson said his main focus as a coach has always been on the players.

“My focus and energy is dedicated to those student-athletes that have made a conscious choice to be a member of the soccer team,” Wilson said. “Our strength and conditioning sessions are the best they have ever been and I can confidently say that it is because this group of young men all share in the belief that hard work, discipline and dedication is the foundation of any successful athletic program.”