By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Over the years Baylor has fielded elite athletic teams in just about every sport, but one of the few sports the university doesn’t officially field is men’s soccer.
While not an NCAA team, the popular Baylor men’s club soccer team isn’t short on competition.
“There’s always the teams that are always good, like UT, A&M, Tech,” Arlington senior Reid Yanney said. “You can always expect really hard competition from them.”
This year, that competition has had to wait. As teams everywhere try to adjust to COVID-19 and the challenges it brings, there have been some major schedule changes.
“Normally we have tryouts in the first week of the semester, so usually second day of school we have guys out there training, which is a little hectic,” Dallas senior Scott Simigian said. “This year is different because we had to wait and get approval to start even practicing with returning players and then we finally had tryouts about a week ago.”
In spite of the inconveniences brought on by the changing schedule, there are still silver linings.
“We could take a little bit more time to get looks at players. Also some of our players were able to come out to some of our other practices,” Simgian said. “That way we got to know them a little better, and I think we made better evaluations this year.”
As another side effect of the pandemic, players Baylor expected to return haven’t been attending school on campus.
“We’ve got players that are at home for the semester, or online for the semester, and possibly online for the spring, too, when the season is. So we’ve had to deal with some of those issues as well,” Yanney said.
With or without those returnees, Baylor still looks to field a strong team this upcoming season.
“We had a lot of good players come out this year, and we had to make a lot of decisions that were harder than previous years, I believe,” Yanney said. “Hopefully the team is looking pretty well in the spring.”
After the conclusion of the regular season, the team will hope to have qualified for the regional tournament, in which teams from surrounding states will come together and compete for a title. Baylor is part of NIRSA Region IV, which put them at the regional championship in Dallas last season, along with teams from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
The regional tournaments, no matter the outcome, are often the highlight of the year for Baylor.
“Getting to drive up there, and be in the hotel, and just be with the team … getting to be with those older guys and just play up there — that was a good memory for me,” said Charlotte junior Will Boatwright.
The team has also become a tight-knit unit off the field, despite the variety of backgrounds that make up the group.
“It just brings a lot of different types of people together, and obviously we all have the common denominator of soccer, our love for the game, and that definitely brings us together,” Boatwright said. “With soccer you get people from other countries, other states, just other regions … It’s a cool way to get to know people from other areas of life than your own.”
While tryouts for this season have passed, interested students can find more information about the men’s soccer team on their Instagram and Facebook pages.