As a new season in sports has opened up, one of the Wildcat sports club teams is looking for a new lucky number: Seven.
The WSU men’s soccer team starts this season on the hunt for its seventh national championship. In a sports scene that has changed since the teams started in the early 90s, that goal requires focus, dedication and heart.
Though the team has been around for quite a few years, it has yet to receive NCAA sanction. Without NCAA sanction, the team is unable to play in the league and be recognized as the official men’s soccer team for Weber State in an official division.
Kody Hunter, a two-year veteran and club president, knows what it’s like to both prepare for that goal and to fall short of it. Last year and the year prior, the men’s soccer club made it far into the playoffs, including losing last year’s championship game during a penalty shootout.
“This team is about unifying and becoming better as players,” Hunter said. “Everyone plays with an intensity that is a good as if not better than many of the NCAA sanctioned teams in the nation.”
Hunter has experience playing not only for the Wildcats, but also with an official NCAA team at Dixie State. Despite that, he has returned home to help play and build up the program at Weber State.
Braken Wooden, a fifth-year player and starter on the team, has been there when the team won a national championship, and has seen his game and skills develop from his time on and off the field.
“I can’t even describe all the different ways that playing here has helped me,” Wooden said. “Being a member of this team is one of those things that has been life-changing experience. Being able to participate in the brotherhood here is something special.”
Unlike many of the different sanction sports, a player can play up to six years on a club soccer team. For several players, this is their final shot. Yet with the varying skill and ages of the team members, the number of players isn’t small. In fact, there are enough players that the soccer club can field both an “A” team and a “B” team.
“We have so many great players here,” Hunter said. “And no matter where they play, they are out there giving their all to help us be the best.”
The program as a whole is vying for their seventh championship, one of the many goals they have as a club.
Brandon Carrillo is a third-year player for the team and the former club president. As he has grown with the team, one of his dreams has been to help develop this program into a sanctioned NCAA collegiate sports team.
“It is hard work being on this team and watching it grow,” Carrillo said. “Just in the last 10 years the program and the interest level for competitive soccer has grown so much that it is one of my dreams to see this program step up to the next level.”
The path to championship number seven began last weekend as the team traveled to face in state rival Utah State in Logan late Saturday night. They came away with a 1-0 victory.
This weekend the team will play in three games. On Friday afternoon the team will open up at home versus Salt Lake Community College at 3:30 p.m. On Saturday they play a double header, hosting Utah at 3:30 p.m and Southern Utah University at 5 p.m. Entrance is free to both the public and to the student body.
“We are very excited for this season,” Hunter said. “We are ready to give it our all and to play our best to make it to that one game at the end in November and bring home another national championship for Weber State.”
Charles can be found on twitter @cbowkstar_91 or acting like a fool at any Wildcat sporting event.