The sun sets on an old generation of soccer

A new era is dawning on soccer’s biggest stage. Aging superstars who once reigned supreme in an ever-competitive atmosphere are faltering. The successful teams in this World Cup are not only youthful, but they’re also playing a more direct game, involving quick passes and tirelessly advancing forward.

The Spaniards looked like a dying breed during their three-game existence in the World Cup group stage in which they were outscored 5-1 by the Netherlands and scored a grand total of four goals in three fixtures. Spain relied too heavily on its short passes and waited too long to break teams apart. Younger, more agile teams, like the Netherlands and Chile, were able to capitalize on Spain’s slow-moving offense. They made the Spaniards pay, eliminating them from the World Cup.

Just four years ago, when Spain won the World Cup in South Africa, La Roja boasted a squad with the average age being 26.

Fast forward four years. That same Spanish team is the seventh-oldest team in the 2014 World Cup. While Spain continued their short passing strategy to a certain degree of efficiency — the Spaniards ranked first among 32 teams in group play with 1,703 passes completed, according to fifa.com — younger teams showed more burst and in the end, scored more goals in the group stage.

The Netherlands, who are the eighth-youngest team in this World Cup, leads all teams in the group stage with 10 goals scored despite completing just 73 percent of their passes. Belgium, the second-youngest team in the World Cup, sits comfortably at the top of Group H with six points. Emerging stars like Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard have aided Belgium in advancing to the Round of 16.

Soccer powerhouse Italy suffered an agonizing defeat against Uruguay. Diego Godin’s header prevented the Italians from reaching the knockout stage for the second consecutive World Cup. As Italy failed to meet hefty expectations and wilted away in the Brazilian heat, Costa Rica rose in their place.

Before the 2014 World Cup commenced, many international pundits didn’t believe Costa Rica had the physical and tactical necessities to advance to the Round of 16, even if Arsenal forward Joel Campbell was on the team. These pundits analyzed Costa Rica and scoffed at their chances of making it out of a group that consisted of 2011 Copa America champion, Uruguay; Euro 2012 finalist Italy; and England. But what the pundits couldn’t analyze was the amount of intensity brewing in the hearts of these youthful Costa Rica national team players.

Three games later, Costa Rica sits atop Group D and will advance to the Round of 16. The Costa Ricans, whose average age is 27.60, haven’t relied too heavily on any one attacker to get the job done. In fact, not one player on the Costa Rica national team has scored more than one goal. The team has shown a great deal of balance in their attacking strategy. Costa Rica’s four goals in the group stage were scored by four separate individuals, Campbell being one of them. The average age of Costa Rica’s goal scorers: 24.5.

The United States’ national team looked like a fresh slab of meat to be grilled and consumed going into the “Group of Death.” Without leader Landon Donovan in the ranks was a cause for concern for the US because the Americans seemed to rely on him too heavily to get the job done. By Jürgen Klinsmann leaving Donovan off the US roster, it forced younger players to rise from beneath his shadow and shine on their own. Because of the Americans’ youth and talent, they have fared well against Portugal and Ghana.

The US, a clear underdog by many standards, has surpassed expectations and is now on the brink of advancing to the knockout round. Led by the broken-nosed warrior Clint Dempsey, the Americans appear as though they have what it takes to at least draw with the heavily-favored Germans.

Soccer’s biggest stage is entering a new age, one in which teams that were once the laughing stock of FIFA are now making pundits think twice about criticizing them. Age seems to no longer be a defining factor in winning games. Natural abilities translate better to the pitch than experience in most cases.

The unexpected has occurred at this World Cup, so don’t be shocked if someone other than Neymar, Thomas Muller, Lionel Messi or Robin van Persie proudly hoists the 18-carat gold trophy on July 13.  

Leading by example: The tale of a servant warrior

The rainy October night sky pelted the Clover Park Warriors as they waged a battle for conference supremacy against Franklin Pierce High School on the rain-soaked football field.

One Warrior lay alone in the rain — Bobby Daly.

The high school senior and linebacker had just suffered a tibia and fibia fracture in the midseason game. He couldn’t feel his leg, let alone move it.

As the medics carted him off the field in a stretcher in front of many concerned fans, Daly said he wondered if he “would be able to recover after the injury and actually play in college.” It seemed like the autumn of 2009 would be the cause of his demise.

Daly had served as a critical ingredient to the Warriors’ defense in his three years of playing on the varsity squad.

As a senior in high school, Daly won the Ironman Award. Daly received the award for not missing a single practice in the offseason or regular season during his four-year high school football career.

A tibia and fibia fracture is not a minor injury. Daly had to wear a leg cast that covered everything up to his hip for three months following the fracture.

Daly couldn’t physically drive, so he would sit across the back seat while his parents drove him to school during his rehabilitation period. He wasn’t cleared to participate in any type of athletic activity until May 2010.

“It became a burden to be around friends,” Daly said. “I kind of got secluded into my own world, because I would be in my room a lot. I fell prey to the ‘poor me’ syndrome after a while, and it was tough, because I didn’t want to be like that. I was mentally weak.”

Daly’s horrific injury might have stolen his senior year of wrestling and track, but it didn’t take away the fact that he had been accepted into Pacific Lutheran University in 2010.

“I wanted to prove that the coaches didn’t waste a recruiting trip or roster spot on me as an individual and as a member of the family outside of football,” Daly said. “I wanted to show them they made the right choice.”

Daly certainly proved he was worth the recruiting visit to PLU defensive coordinator Craig McCord.

“Bobby [Daly] has been everything we’ve asked for,” McCord said. “He is helping coach younger guys, and he’s playing through the guys that are starting ahead of him … his perseverance and his never-say-die attitude has been great.”

College not only came with homework and smelly dorm rooms, but it also brought new challenges with injuries.

During his sophomore year at PLU, Daly pulled his hamstring twice — once during the offseason summer workouts and again during the early part of the fall.

His junior year was only worse injury-wise.

On the second day of fall practice, Daly took on the leading fullback, but he felt something crunch in his shoulder as he made contact.

“It [my shoulder] tingled and stung, but I didn’t think it was a huge deal,” Daly said.

What Daly had thought was an insignificant injury swelled into a slightly separated Acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder. The injury prevented Daly from participating in any football-related activities for nearly seven weeks.

Daly didn’t suit up until the sixth game in 2012, when the Lutes won against Willamette 41-27.

In his final year as a Lute, Daly has recovered from his prior injuries and is now a contributor on special teams. He could have given up at any point in the past three years, but he chose not to.

“I admire him and look up to him a lot because he’s stuck with it [football] and has not given up,” senior Jordan Patterson, a linebacker, said. “When I think of a true servant warrior, Bobby is one of the first guys to come to mind.”

Patterson was Daly’s roommate when they were first-years.

Daly decided to stick with the Lute football program for one sole reason: relationships. Daly is great friends with Patterson and many other teammates and said he wants to keep these fruitful relationships for as long as he possibly can.

“It doesn’t matter what you do on and off the field,” Daly said. “It’s who you are, and in the end, relationships are the only thing that you have left after graduating.”

Daly has accepted his role on the defense, even though he is not a starter. Daly’s goal is to be a role model on the team.

He said he is done thinking about why he isn’t starting.

“I want to be a leader and let the field take care of itself,” Daly said.

When Daly is on the field, he brings a certain level of excitement, Patterson said.

“When he got some playing time [on defense] at the end of the Lewis & Clark game this past year, my eyes were fixed on him, and I cheered him on,” Patterson said. “Our team knows that he works hard. He deserves to be out there.”

Rewind back to when Daly injured his leg as a senior in high school.

He thought he would never come back to play the sport he so desperately loved. Would Daly agree with that notion now?

“Not a chance.”

The four Lute football players surrounding Bobby Daly, 52, have persuaded him to stick with football, even in dire circumstances. They have stood by him every step of the way. From left to right, seniors Dalton Darmody, Jordan Patterson, Daly, Ben Kaestner and Mychael Tuiasosopo. Photo by Sam Horn.

The four Lute football players surrounding Bobby Daly, 52, have persuaded him to stick with football, even in dire circumstances. They have stood by him every step of the way. From left to right, seniors Dalton Darmody, Jordan Patterson, Daly, Ben Kaestner and Mychael Tuiasosopo. Photo by Sam Horn.

Enjoying the trip

Following in the footsteps of a legend is difficult, especially if that legend is your father.

For the head football coach at Pacific Lutheran University, Scott Westering, this is especially true. He walks in the path left by his father, Forrest “Frosty” Westering, who revolutionized the PLU football program during his 31-year career in Tacoma.

The PLU football program is different than most football programs around the country in that it focuses on shaping players into courageous men who always give it their best shot.

The PLU football coaching staff is not as concerned about what players do on the field. After all, it’s about enjoying the trip and making lasting memories.

In contrast, most coaching staffs at major Division I football programs instill a sense of fear and intimidation in order to force players to excel on the field. That method can only work to a certain point, and then players will quit out of frustration.

At PLU, Frosty Westering did the exact opposite.

“Dad [Frosty] never went down that road of intimidation and really made the decision that he is going to motivate through treating young men with love,” Scott Westering said.

Frosty Westering always believed that enjoying the trip was more important than actually reaching the pinnacle in college football: the national championship. Photo courtesy of Kellen Westering.

Frosty Westering always believed enjoying the trip was more important than actually reaching the pinnacle in college football: the national championship. Photo courtesy of Kellen Westering.

“It’s about getting guys to not be afraid to fail and getting guys to feel good about themselves in a positive culture and environment. If you do that, then you get guys to overachieve.”

Players certainly overachieved during Frosty’s time at PLU. Before Frosty Westering retired in 2003, he won four national championships and competed in eight.

Scott Westering served as the offensive coordinator under Frosty Westering in 1999, when PLU won the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl game against heavily-favored Rowan University of New Jersey, 42-13.

Their unique 1999 national championship run involved traveling nearly 16,000 miles to play five games on the road. The 1999 PLU football team was undersized and didn’t have any superstars, but the team members played to their full potential and surprised the entire nation.

When Frosty Westering passed away in April, he had influenced many people nationwide. People’s hearts had been touched and would never be the same. Frosty Westering had a lasting impact on nearly everyone he met.

One person who was deeply affected by Frosty’s unique style of coaching was former PLU running back, Jud Keim.

Keim now serves on the PLU football coaching staff with Scott Westering and coaches the running backs, in addition to supervising special teams. Keim played for Frosty Westering from 1982-1986 and was a two-time all-conference running back.

“There’s probably nobody that’s had more impact on me and my life, certainly in my playing days, than Frosty,” Keim said.  “[Frosty’s] stories have filtered every decision I’ve ever made. Anything and everything in my life has been by him [Frosty].”

A Season Dedicated to Frosty

Scott Westering decided to commemorate this season to his father because of what Frosty Westering stood for. Frosty Westering embodied a legendary persona, similar to what Vince Lombardi did for football or what John Wooden did for basketball. The theme for this year is ‘The Legacy Lives on in you.”

“It was awesome how the captains embraced the idea of having the legacy live on in us,” Scott Westering said. “We stand on the shoulders of teams that came before us in the seventies, eighties and nineties. I have gotten these guys to understand that they’re really a part of something special. They’re not just playing football. They’re involved with something that has a tradition.”

In addition to all of the national championships Frosty Westering garnered, he also won the prestigious Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. The recipients of this award are all the who’s who of college football.

In 1983, Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama won the award. Penn State’s renowned coach, Joe Paterno, won the award in 2002. Frosty Westering’s status is unheralded, but he never cared about all the hardware.  That was just a bonus.

“Most things in a competitive arena are based off of how many wins, rings, watches, plaques and banners you have,” Keim said. “That would be the last thing Frosty would talk about though.”

One of Frosty Westering’s more powerful sayings was to make the “Big Time” where a player was in life. This doesn’t focus on what a person has and doesn’t have as a player, but instead concentrates on what that person does have and what that person could do with that potential.

“We all think the grass is greener somewhere else, but it’s not about resources,” Keim said. “It’s about what you do with them. Most people focus on what they don’t have and what they wished they had, or comparing to what others have. Making the ‘Big Time’ is learning to get it done with what you do have. Be the best you can be in all things.”

Carrying on the Legacy

When Scott Westering interviewed for the head coaching job at PLU in 2003, he knew he was pulling the double cardinal sin. He was following a legend, which most are told to never do, and the legend was his father.

“My dad built the mansion. I’m just ready to move into it,” Scott Westering said.  “I’m going to move into the master bedroom. Some of the rooms, so to speak, we left untouched. Other rooms, we’ve painted the wallpaper and changed some things around. I love my father and I’ve honored him every opportunity I can. I was humbled and honored that PLU gave me the baton from my dad and to continue to run with it.”

Scott Westering’s work has resembled his father’s success in his 10th year as the head coach of PLU football. The Lutes are 7-1 this season with one game left in the regular season. They could be on the brink of a playoff berth.

After being ranked 13th in the preseason http://d3football.com national poll, the 2013 the Lute football team has lived up to the lofty expectations presented before them. Frosty Westering would be proud of the team’s extraordinary accomplishments, but would stress the importance of enjoying the trip.

To Frosty Westering, it’s not all about winning and losing games. It goes beyond that. It’s about making the “Big Time” and enjoying teammates’ company. It’s about serving each other and going above and beyond the call of duty.

Sure, a team can go undefeated and win the national championship, but a concern of Frosty’s would be making sure the team is relishing the process. Players only have four years to appreciate every prayer before a game, every practice, every snap and every team meeting.

One Lute football player who has been uniquely affected by Frosty Westering is his grandson, Kellen Westering. Kellen Westering is a wide receiver on the PLU football team. He dedicates his life to Frosty Westering, who helped create a friendly environment for Kellen Westering to grow up in.

Kellen Westering, left, and Scott Westering carry on Frosty's legacy in 2013. Photo courtesy of Kellen Westering.

Kellen Westering, left, and Scott Westering, right, carry on Frosty Westering’s legacy in 2013. Photo courtesy of Kellen Westering.

“[Frosty] has always been someone who makes the other person feel more important than him,” Kellen Westering said. “On his death bed, it was never about him. He was still talking to me and caring about me. He was an unbelievable man.”

No one can play football for their entire life, so that’s why Frosty Westering stressed the notion that it is important to live in the moment. Frosty Westering’s personality was bigger than life itself and his philosophy on life was unlike any other.

To officially commemorate Frosty Westering this year, a silhouette of the legendary coach giving his usual thumbs-up sign is embroidered on every Lute football player’s jersey.

Junior Joel Teats, a linebacker on the 2013 PLU football team, said he appreciates the patch and is content with this season being dedicated to Frosty Westering.

“We touch the patch to remind us what he [Frosty] started through his philosophy of ‘Every Man A Lute.’ It [the patch] definitely gives us some extra motivation to play the games in honor of his legacy,” Teats said.

PLU Changed Forever

In 1972, Pacific Lutheran University hired Frosty Westering. Everything would change that year for the Lutes, and the football team would never look back. They would never look back because every player’s life would be altered from that moment on in a significantly positive manner.

The nation came to know Frosty Westering as the ninth-winningest coach in the history of college football, but many people considered him a saving grace.

“I saw young men become giants playing for him [Frosty]. These players not only became giants as players and but also as young men,” Scott Westering said. “He liked to point guys in the right direction when they’re away from home for the first time.”

The Frosty Westering era lives on in Scott Westering, who is continuing to walk on the path of selflessness. Whether Scott Westering leads a PLU team to a national championship in the next few years is beside the point.

The two concepts that truly matter are enjoying the trip and making the “Big Time” where you are, according to Scott and Frosty Westering. It’s all about the process of becoming uncommon, something Frosty preached about while revolutionizing the PLU football program.

Every Saturday this season, players commemorated Frosty Westering by taping a picture of him up in the locker room. As every player passed by the image, there’s a distinct whisper.

“Attaway, Frosty. Attaway.”

The PLU football team is dedicating this season to legendary coach, Frosty Westering. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

The PLU football team is dedicating this season to the legendary coach, Frosty Westering. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Injuries lead to new outlook on life for multi-sport athlete

As each second passes, senior Matt VanEaton widens his smile and tightens his grip on a medieval death device.

Don’t be fooled. He’s not a serial killer. Far from it. VanEaton is mustering all his strength to launch a hammer into the air during a track meet.

VanEaton is grinning because he knows this hammer throw will be his best one yet. He is grinning because he is summoning his God-given strength to force the hammer into the atmosphere. More importantly, VanEaton is grinning because he knows how much he has progressed since his earlier injury-riddled years as a collegiate athlete.

The observant bystander wouldn’t know this is VanEaton’s first year on the track team. His thunderous throws disprove that notion. For the majority of VanEaton’s collegiate career, he has been a member of the Pacific Lutheran University football team.

Senior Matt VanEaton powers through a throw on his way to a personal best mark. Photo by Jesse Major

Senior Matt VanEaton powers through a throw on his way to a personal best mark. Photo by Jesse Major

While he did throw shot put in high school, and was quite fond of it, VanEaton hasn’t participated on the track and field team.

Until now.

 

MAKING THE TRANSITION

Upon entering PLU, VanEaton knew he wanted to play football at the collegiate level. VanEaton was a linebacker all four years at PLU and said he cherished every moment of it.

However, during his senior year, he said he knew he wanted to pursue another challenge — try something new. That something new was throwing the hammer. As daunting as the task seemed, VanEaton was ready for the test.

Making the transition from linebacker to hammer thrower seemed natural for VanEaton. During the winter of his senior year, he constantly trained and constantly strived for new goals.

He wanted to get stronger, faster, smarter and more agile. VanEaton prepared himself for the spring season and seems to be keeping up with the rest of the pack.

“He kind of helped me have a little more fun this year with his attitude of laughing, but still knows when to be serious,” senior Kyle Peart said.

Keeping pace with Peart is no ordinary task. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, the mammoth man has solidified himself as one of the most accomplished throwers in the Northwest Conference.

Peart finished fifth in the shot put and 12th in the hammer throw at the NWC Championships in 2011. If that wasn’t enough, he placed first in the hammer throw at the NWC Championships in 2012 while earning second place in the shot put. That same year, Peart qualified for nationals in the hammer throw and shotput.

Every day, VanEaton attempts to best Peart, but it’s not easy — especially with all of the injuries VanEaton has suffered over the past three years.

In his sophomore year at PLU, VanEaton had a promising future in football. He was starting on third downs as a linebacker when the defensive coordinators implemented a new scheme. They wanted VanEaton to become a star as a pass rusher and a star on special teams.

 

RECEIVING THE NEWS

And then VanEaton received an injury diagnosis — he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and ripped open his meniscus in his right knee.

Having suffered one of the more serious injuries in the world of sports, VanEaton could only watch from the sidelines.

He was finished. His career as a collegiate athlete seemed to be coming to an abrupt end as a sophomore — much too early for anyone.

“That season was looking kind of bright for me, and then that injury came,” VanEaton said. “It couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

Going through surgery, VanEaton said he was depressed. He was nervous he would never get to see the field again. His collegiate career had taken a terrible detour.

“I remember being like ‘I can’t be like this, I need to be positive. I can’t let this hold me down.’ I remember from that day forward, I’ve been different ever since,” VanEaton said. “I think I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my knee injury.”

VanEaton worked harder than before to recover from his devastating injury. He refused to let anything stand in his way. He refused to be content with ending his athletic career as a sophomore.

He wanted to make the most out of his time at PLU.

VanEaton returned to the field the following year ready for battle. Only this time, VanEaton was a changed man. He was constantly positive and enthusiastic.

He refused to focus on the troubling things in life, like suffering another demoralizing injury. Even though VanEaton finished his junior year unscathed, save for the occasional bruise, he wasn’t so lucky the next year.

During a football scrimmage as a senior, VanEaton burst forward and tackled a running back near the sidelines. VanEaton didn’t get up. He lay on the turf clutching his right knee, letting loose a horrific scream. The scream penetrated the cold air and traveled across the field.

VanEaton had torn his meniscus again.

To say that VanEaton was unlucky in the injury department while in college would be a severe understatement.

 

REHABILITATION PROCESS

Nevertheless, VanEaton persevered through his most recent injury and battled through much hardship.

Fellow linebacker Ben Kaestner, a senior, persuaded VanEaton to join him in the gym while he was still on crutches. Kaestner said that VanEaton could still work on strengthening his upper body.

VanEaton was able to conquer any lingering knee issues after working out with Kaestner on a regular basis. Today, VanEaton attributes much of his athletic success to Kaestner.

After VanEaton had successfully recovered from his second knee injury, he finished his senior football season and played in nearly every game.

But that wasn’t enough. VanEaton wanted more. So he joined the track and field team as a hammer thrower. His fervent personality has transferred over to the throwing cage as well.

“Throwers are oftentimes kind of, I don’t want to say introverted, but for lack of a better word, they’re cerebral people,” head throwing coach Dan Haakenson said. “Matt [VanEaton] brings a kind of energy and a real positive outlook that I think is nice. It really does help out the team. A lot of the athletes can get very introspective and he kind of breaks that up and makes people laugh.”

There is nothing that unifies a coach and athlete like the good, old-fashioned fist bump. Coach Dan Haakenson has been impressed with senior Matt VanEaton thus far and is pleased with his improvement. Photo by Jesse Major

There is nothing that unifies a coach and athlete like the good, old-fashioned fist bump. Coach Dan Haakenson has been impressed with senior Matt VanEaton thus far and is pleased with his improvement. Photo by Jesse Major

Peart shared similar feelings concerning his energetic teammate.

“Definitely his happy attitude has worn off on us, and we can have more fun even on the bad days,” Peart said.

As VanEaton prepares to vault the hammer in the air, he grits his teeth. His eyes focus on the hammer. His hands release the object with authority, launching the hammer into the sky.

The hammer lands on the damp grass with a thud. VanEaton smiles. He is content. The throw has satisfied his standards.

After all these past years of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles, VanEaton can finally smile with confidence.

Brazil home to a new breed of dog

Peel back the pages of a dusty, old dictionary and scour them for ‘dog.’

If you’re meticulous in your search, you will discover that ‘dog’ is defined as: “a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports.”

However, there is another definition of ‘dog’ that more accurately describes senior Giancarlo Santoro.

It goes like this: “he is sure to cause trouble and be loud but at the end of the day, people like who he is.”
Santoro has been stirring up trouble recently, but it’s the good kind of trouble — if there is such a thing.

While attending a communication class in one of the many ancient rooms in Ingram Hall, Santoro was glued to his seat.
He wasn’t fastened to his chair because of the professor’s riveting teachings, but because of what he saw greeting him in his email inbox.

There, in front of Santoro, was an email from Ron Smith.

Smith’s name might not ring any alarms for popularity or uniqueness, but Smith had a simple message for Santoro: he had been selected to join the USA Division 3 All-Star Soccer Team.

Santoro is among 16 players to be selected nationwide for this prestigious squad, which will travel down to the soccer-crazed country of Brazil. This year, Brazil has the privilege of hosting the World Cup, an international spectacle.

The USA Division 3 All-Star Soccer Team’s tour will run from May 27 through June 5. The squad’s tour will commence in Orlando, Fla.
There, the team will practice for two days before flying down to Sao Paulo, Brazil for multiple games in the City of Jundiai and the state of Sao Paulo May 29, 30 and 31. The team will end its tour in Rio de Janeiro for one more competition June 3.

The team will compete against top U-22 club teams from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Sean Helliwell, who coaches at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., will be the USA Division 3 All-Star Soccer Team’s head coach.

“When I opened up the email [from Smith], I was so excited,” Santoro said. “I didn’t know what to think about it at first.”
The fact that Santoro made the USA Division 3 All-Star Soccer Team is no fluke. Soccer has been in Santoro’s blood long before he contemplated attending Pacific Lutheran University.

 

DEVELOPMENT

Growing up in an athletic family in Hartford, Conn., Santoro was exposed to a variety of sports at a young age.

Senior Giancarlo Santoro’s family members surround him during Senior Day. From left to right: mother, Theresa Santoro; brother, Dante Santoro; father, Vincent Santoro. Photo courtesy of Giancarlo Santoro.

Senior Giancarlo Santoro’s family members surround him during Senior Day. From left to right: mother, Theresa Santoro; brother, Dante Santoro; father, Vincent Santoro. Photo courtesy of Giancarlo Santoro.

Santoro’s father didn’t just play one sport. Instead, he played nearly every sport conceivable — including basketball, baseball and football — with his athletic, bulky frame contributing to his success.

Contrary to his father, Santoro focused on honing his skills in soccer.

Santoro’s love for soccer began earlier than most adolescents. Starting in kindergarten, Santoro became infatuated with soccer because he said he loved winning games.

His recreational kindergarten team was quite talented and proved victorious in many matches, unlike the lacrosse and tee ball teams he was also involved with.

Those teams were the exact opposite, in that they could never win a game and lacked the athleticism to truly compete with other teams.
“I’m very competitive in sports and hate losing,” Santoro said.

His hunger to win more games carried over to his high school years, where Santoro was a member of the Skyline Spartans soccer team.

In Santoro’s senior year of high school, the Spartans advanced to the Washington state quarterfinals, only to lose to Lake Stevens 2-1.

In Skyline’s 2010 season, Santoro accounted for six of the team’s goals as the team boasted a 12-6-2 record. By earning more wins than losses and draws combined that season, Santoro had reached his goal of “winning games.”

But he wasn’t done.

 

MOVING ON

Once Santoro made the decision to attend PLU in the spring of 2010, head coach John Yorke knew he had a prized recruit in his arsenal.

“When he first came to PLU, he wasn’t very sure of himself, but over the course of these past four years, he’s become much more confident,” Yorke said. “He’s very good on his feet, and he’s strong and quick. He’s a very talented soccer player.”

Senior Giancarlo Santoro races by an opponent en route to unleashing a venomous shot upon an unwary opponent. Over the course of his four years at PLU, Santoro scored 14 goals. Photo by Jesse Major.

Senior Giancarlo Santoro races by an opponent en route to unleashing a venomous shot upon an unwary opponent. Over the course of his four years at PLU, Santoro scored 14 goals. Photo by Jesse Major.

Santoro made an immediate impact on the soccer pitch when he arrived at PLU. As a first-year in 2010, Santoro scored two goals, including one game-winner, and tallied five assists in his initial collegiate season.

Santoro’s soccer success didn’t cease after that. His yearning for winning games only grew.

While Santoro accounted for seven of the Lutes’ goals in his first three seasons on the PLU squad, his goal scoring potential came to full fruition in his senior year.

As one of four seniors to start every game during the 2013 season, Santoro found the back of the net seven times.

The 2013 season was undoubtedly one of the more successful seasons in team history, as the Lutes set a program record by going undefeated in the first 12 games.

With a 13-4-3 final record, the Lutes tied for the fourth-most wins in a season in team history.

Standing at 5 feet 11 inches and having the lung capacity of a horse, Santoro has matured into a physical specimen.

His ability to run himself ragged and provide teammates with nice setups has made Santoro one of the premier soccer players in the Northwest Conference.

As important as winning is to Santoro, living with some of his best friends, otherwise known as “dogs,” for the last two years, has far outweighed seeking victory on the pitch.

 

HOME SWEET HOME

Surrounded by some of his closest friends in their cozy living room, Santoro tosses his head back and lets out a howl. Fellow senior Jeff Piaquadio tells a joke, causing every “dog” in the living room, including Santoro, to break out in hysteria.

The content of the joke is irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is the fact that Santoro is putting on a masterful display with a soccer ball.
The fact that the ball is a replica of the Adidas Jo’bulani World Cup ball is barely noticeable. Tears adorn the sides of the worn ball, but that doesn’t stop Santoro from gently maneuvering it around the room.

With a tap of his right foot, the ball takes a high bounce and lands directly on his left foot. The aerial tricks are one thing, but Santoro’s dribbling expertise is exemplified with his deft touch.

Seemingly dancing around the room, Santoro caresses the ball with his feet. It’s as if he were born with a soccer ball in his grip.

Santoro’s group of “dogs” consist of seniors Sam Watkins, Cameron Veres, Piaquadio and junior Justin Manao. All of them share Santoro’s passion for soccer.

The term “dog” or “dogger” is often used around the Brown House, the abode where the five reside. That’s because they view themselves as guys who are “sure to cause trouble and be loud.”

For the most part, that statement is accurate.

“It’s been incredible to live with these guys for the last two years,” Santoro said. “They’re my best friends, and I don’t know what I would do without them. They’re a crazy bunch of guys.”

Santoro is the group’s outlier in that he is usually reserved and quiet. He does have his momentary outbursts however.

“He’s a lot crazier than most people think he is,” Watkins said. “He may be quiet, but once you get to know him, he’s a dog.”

Soon enough, Santoro will depart May 27 for Orlando to prepare for the USA Division 3 All-Star Soccer Team tour in Brazil.

This could be the final time Santoro plays soccer competitively. All of the skills and lessons Santoro has learned over the course of his 16-year soccer career will come down to this momentous occasion in Brazil.

Temporarily leaving his “dogs” will be emotionally hard for Santoro.

However, playing soccer on an international stage in a country known for its soccer prominence is definitely something to bark about.

Bullying doesn’t benefit anyone

Our lives should not be ruled by fear. We should be smart in choosing our friends and not have to worry about being physically or emotionally harmed. We only live once, and it should be a goal of ours to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity.

Fear should not constitute any part of our lives. If fear dominates anyone’s life, that person needs to seek help. If a so-called ‘friend’ is an imposing figure in someone’s life, that can only mean trouble.

Recently in the NFL, two players have been the subject of bullying. One player, Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins, was convicted of harassing his teammate, Jonathon Martin. Incognito left the following voicemail on Martin’s cell phone a few weeks ago, which Adam Schefter of ESPN helped discover:

“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of [expletive] . . . I saw you on Twitter, you been training ten weeks. [I want to] [expletive] in your [expletive] mouth. [I’m going to] slap your [expletive] mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face (laughter). [Expletive] you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you,” Incognito said.

Martin was understandably in fear of his life and left the Dolphins. The Stanford product wanted no part of Incognito.

I can’t blame him for taking action. If I were in Martin’s place, I would be scared out of my mind. Not only did Incognito insult Martin’s race, but he also threatened his life.

What a piece of scum.

Image Richie Incognito. photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Several days after Incognito left the voicemail, he was suspended indefinitely from the Dolphins organization. Although he is making the argument that he is not a racist and did not mean harm to Martin, I don’t buy that nonsense.

Not for one second.

If Incognito wasn’t a bigot, then he wouldn’t have left the voicemail in the first place. As a society, I had hoped we have moved away from these unacceptable acts of racism. We don’t live in the 1960s anymore.

I understand that life in the NFL is not easy, but bullying should not be tolerated. Martin was already having a tough enough time making a name for himself on the field after being chosen in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Image

 

Jonathan Martin. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News, Creative Commons.

Incognito shouldn’t have left this voicemail in the first place, but what’s been done is done. I am content in the fact that the NFL is taking into consideration Incognito’s intolerable actions. Even if it was intended as a joke among ‘friends,’ it doesn’t matter.

Words can hurt.

Even though students at Pacific Lutheran University don’t participate in the NFL, they need to be cautious in how they approach certain situations. If bullying is taking place, stop it.

There is no place for it in our society. It certainly doesn’t benefit anyone, even the bully.

I encourage everyone to live their lives to the fullest. Make peace, not war. If you are having trouble being a reasonable person, listen to some Bob Marley. You can thank me later.

Fans are being robbed by the NFL

Professional sports teams have asked too much of taxpayers in the past 90 years.

Since 1923, 186 professional sports stadiums have been built in America. This process has cost about $53 billion, and taxpayers have accounted for nearly 61 percent of the costs.

Considering many people go through their lives having a difficult time paying for groceries, gas and house payments, this is too much to ask.

Millions of people do not make millions of dollars and cannot afford life’s many luxuries like an exotic vacation to the Bahamas or the newest Lamborghini model.

The American median household income is just above $50,000 as of 2011. That figure is well below $1 million.
The many who fall under this category of “average American citizens” enjoy many things in life even though they may not be able to afford it.

One of those loves is the NFL.

The statistics can prove that fact — 64 percent of Americans watch the NFL each week, according to “By the Numbers,” a show that airs on ESPN.

Even though Americans probably love every aspect of the brutally physical sport, I bet they’re not ready for this: the NFL wants even more money to build newer and better stadiums.

If the NFL wonders whether or not people are ready to submit and pay nearly every penny out of their pockets to produce fancy stadiums, the short answer is no.

“It would depend on how much [tax] money goes towards the stadium,” sophomore Sam Geisslinger said. “Why should everyone chip in if not everyone watches the NFL?”

Of all the sports stadiums, the NFL has received the largest taxpayer contribution at 68 percent. The Minnesota Vikings have been at the forefront of this heated topic for the past year.

Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Vikings, told Minnesotans if they didn’t fund $1 billion for a new stadium, he would relocate the team. Wilf, although he is loved by many Minnesotans, is a con.

He is a liar.

A New Jersey court ruled that the Wilf clan defrauded many business partners out of millions of dollars.

Now, he has to pay $84.5 million to his former partners. Wilf has been ordered to pay 60 percent of the damages. After this lawsuit, Wilf is running dangerously low on funds.

How can Zygi possibly afford to produce a $1 billion stadium?

Well, by deception of course.

Wilf received a subsidy package from lawmakers for about $500 million, $348 million from the state and $150 million from Minneapolis. Surprisingly enough, Wilf gave the Vikings a $50 million grant to help finance their stadium.

All of this happened while more than half of Minneapolis schools were struggling with budget cuts. Wilf really couldn’t have found a worse time to ask Minnesotans to cough up some money.

While the NFL rakes in millions of dollars every year in revenue, stadiums actually have a negative impact on local economies.
City residents’ income actually decreases after the construction of a new sports stadium.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that 16 percent of the annual budget in Hamilton County, Ohio, is still going toward the Cincinnati Bengals’ stadium 10 years after it was built.

Either the people of Hamilton County are obsessed with football, or the NFL kings are forcing these poor residents into giving up more money than they want to.

As if the stadium issue isn’t worrisome enough, NFL ticket prices are shooting through the stratosphere.

The Chicago Bears lead the league in one category: ticket prices. The average price of a Bears’ ticket is a whopping $446. I could think of five things off the top of my head that I would rather spend $446 on. Few fans actually have enough money to afford this.

NFL teams need to stop worrying about what their stadiums look like.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have a gargantuan cannon that fires off each time the Bucs score, but it doesn’t appear to have made an impact on the Buccaneers’ football skills, as they stand at 0-7 this season.

The front offices of each NFL team need to concentrate on how they will make their team better the following year, not what their stadium will look like.

It’s not what you look like, it’s how you act.

The Buccaneers are robbing their fans of a promising season. When it comes down to wins and losses, no one cares about the the aesthetically-pleasing cannon.

The Bucs fall short, just like the Vikings, who have a 1-6 record in 2013.

Fans pay good money to watch their teams play. Even if they can’t afford a Lamborghini or a trip to the Bahamas, they still have the opportunity to watch their favorite NFL team battle it out each week during the fall.

Dear NFL, please stop focusing on remodeling your stadiums and worry instead about next year’s draft.

After all, most NFL owners think the Vince Lombardi Trophy is more important than a $1 billion stadium.

 

Some information gathered from Sean Conboy’s article, “The NFL is Running a Billion-Dollar Con” from the Pittsburgh Magazine.