Future looks bright for young club team

With only one loss so far this fall, the Oswego State men’s soccer club is having its most promising season ever, with hopes of joining a competitive league in the future.

According to the club’s secretary, Steve Gambardella, since they are still a new club, they play non-league games against teams who are in the league, NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.

While Oswego State cannot compete in the league yet, these games count toward the other teams’ record and are officiated by league referees. However, with the improvement he has seen in the team this year, Gambardella says they hope to join the league as soon as next season.

“I’ve been involved for two years, and last year was nothing compared to this year,” Gambardella said.

This is partially due to the fact the club had over 40 men come tryout for the team at the start of the fall semester. Club vice president, Dan Ulrich, who has been involved with the team since it was formed four years ago, says the team is revitalized and better than he has ever seen it.

“We’ve been up and down, but this year we’re definitely making a bigger comeback,” Ulrich said. “We’ve had a lot of committed guys, and it’s the best we’ve been in the past four years by far.”

Becoming more organized is another reason why Oswego State has been able to be more successful.

“My sophomore and junior year we kind of lapsed out, but this year we’ve brought it back,” Ulrich said. “We have an official board with five members now, so we’re a lot more legitimate club.”

The soccer club is 2-1-3, with its only loss coming against regionally-ranked Syracuse University. Its played against many of the best teams in the central New York area, including Binghamton University, SUNY Geneseo, Colgate University and RIT. Having the freedom to schedule these exhibition matches is proving to be a great experience for the team.

One area where Oswego State hopes to keep improving is generating interest for new members to join. While they had a good turnout at tryouts this year, the previous two years had not been as impressive. Therefore, the board members have taken it upon themselves to learn how to get more involved on campus and spread the word.

“We’ve been working on getting somebody on the board to be an advertiser,” Gambardella said. “But it’s a lot of word of mouth, playing pickup games and intramurals, and just asking around.”

In addition, the board encourages the men they cut during tryouts to continue coming to practices or play intramurals so they can keep getting better and tryout for the team again.

“We probably will host another open practice in the spring,” Ulrich said. “We’re a really open club and we’re honest with all the guys we cut, and hopefully they don’t shy away from trying out again.”

As with many other club teams, the soccer club is run strictly by students, so the leadership of the upperclassmen is vital to the team’s success. Tamoy Coke, the treasurer of the club who has also been involved with the team for four years, says they try to do a lot of team building activities as well as teach the younger members about what it takes to run the team.

“One thing we’re going to try to do that I feel like we haven’t done in the previous years is have people on the board get somebody to shadow them,” Coke said. “I’m the treasurer, and there are some technical things you need to know if you want to be the treasurer, and I feel like if somebody shadows you they’ll be able to fill the role easier when you leave.”

Ulrich added that playing a leadership role is one of the more challenging aspects of running a club team since everyone has schoolwork to worry about and other clubs they may be involved in. However, he believes they have been getting better and better at it throughout the season.

“This is the first year we’re a full club with an entire board again, so it’s been a lot of figuring out whose roles are what and working as a board together,” Ulrich said. “But I think we’ve definitely progressed even from our first game to our fifth, as a team we’ve gotten better and also as a board we’ve gotten way more organized.”

With the construction of the new turf facility on the hill above Romney Field House, there has been a lot more traffic at the Hidden Fields, where the soccer club practices. A few of the varsity teams must practice there now as well, but Ulrich says it has not caused them any scheduling problems.

“We haven’t really had too many conflicts,” Ulrich said. “The girls team practices out here too, so we just became friends with them and share the field when we need to, but it’s been working out pretty well.”

Over the winter, the team plans to schedule a couple practices each week in Swetman Gym, as well as try to get some time in Romney Field House so they can keep the team together year-round.

As far as the rest of the fall season goes, the Oswego State soccer club has at least two games scheduled against Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland. Although there are no playoffs for it to strive for yet, its goals are still to compete, win some games and have fun.

“This is probably one of the best teams we’ve had so far,” Coke said. “People play really hard when they come out to practices, and it’s really good, and I definitely see a bright future for the club.”