WNC faces challenges in starting soccer program | NevadaAppeal.com
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WNC faces challenges in starting soccer program

Jose Vitor de Oliveira, Rodrigo Pimenta and Alexandre Comparotto perform a 'one-touch' drill during WNC soccer team practice Wednesday at John L. Harvey Field.
Brad Coman/Nevada Appeal |

Ian Hill, who operates and is the head coach of Western Nevada College’s club soccer teams, talks about what it’s typically like for anyone beginning a new program as he oversees practice for his men’s program at John L. Harvey Field on the WNC campus.

“Launching a new program, you know how it goes,” Hill said. “We’ve had some good learning experiences and we’re doing well.”

Hill, who coached a successful club program at Lake Tahoe Community College, came to WNC to establish its club program after the school decided to launch the program early this year.

The club program doesn’t compete on the intercollegiate level and doesn’t offer scholarships, but the men’s and women’s teams in the program have already played against intercollegiate, National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association and professional teams.

The program has 60 players enrolled at WNC. There are 43 men who make up the premiere and development teams and 17 players who make up the women’s premiere team.

“That’s pretty good for a first-year program,” Hill said.

Mike Alvarez, who was the head coach for Carson High’s state-winning boys soccer team last year, is also serving as Hill’s assistant coach.

WNC’s men’s premiere team has played five games so far, going 1-4 while the women have gone 0-2 so far.

The WNC men have played one game at John L. Harvey Field so far on Sept. 18, losing to Boise of the United Premier Soccer League, which could be consider the equivalent of Class A in baseball, 4-3. “It was a great effort,” Hill said.

WNC has also beaten Sierra Nevada College, a four-year intercollegiate program, 2-0; lost to Jessup University of Rocklin, Calif., another four-year intercollegiate program, 4-2; and to the Las Vegas Mobsters of the Premiere Development League, which can be considered the equivalent of Double A baseball, 6-3.

WNC’s men also lost to NJCAA College of Southern Nevada 6-0 after suffering injuries to several key players when it trailed just 1-0 at halftime.

The WNC women have lost 5-0 to CSN and 3-1 to College of the Siskiyous.

WNC’s men will begin play in the University Club League against a club team from UC Davis at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at John L. Harvey Field. The women will begin league play at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 1 at John L. Harvey Field against Chico State’s club team.

Hill also said he has scheduled seven games for the men’s development team.

The community is getting behind the program, Hill said. “We have tremendous support from the community,” he said.

Among the sponsors have been Dick Campagni, Carson-Tahoe Health and individuals, Hill said. The Associated Students of Western Nevada also loaned the program $27,000 to help get it going with the stipulation the money be paid back in two years.

“We’ve already started paying it back,” Hill said. When asked if he expected to pay the money back sooner than two years, Hill said, “I think so. I think we will for sure.”

ASWN also approved $75,000 for the purchase of vans to be used by all student groups, including the soccer program. Hill said the vans just became available recently, so thus far for its trips Hill said the program has counted on its fundraising to provide for vans or has just cobbled together transportation.

In the long-term, the field turf at John L. Harvey Field will also need to be repaired. Hill said the turf has been tested and is fit for use this year, but eventually the turf will need to be fixed at a minimum cost of $75,000.

The program features players from all over Nevada, including Carson City, Reno, Dayton and Las Vegas and also includes players from Brazil, England and Australia.

Jonathan Limon, who played for Carson’s state title team, said it meant a great deal to him to be able to play at WNC.

“I’m trying to win for Carson City,” Limon said. “We’re getting better every practice.”

Hugo Garcia, who played for Spanish Springs and is one of the team’s captains, said he takes pride “being just one of the first players to start this, being the very first ones of the program.

“I’m enjoying it a lot. We’re competing against each other to make each other better but we still have that love for each other.”

Matheus Santos came from Brazil via the Missouri Military Academy, where he spent his senior year last year, to play at WNC. Missouri Military Academy offered Santos a scholarship.

Santos has the goal to play professionally and came to the U.S. to fulfill that goal because to play at the elite level in Brazil takes “knowing people and money” as Santos put it. He also came to the U.S. to learn English. Santos is also one of the team captains.

Another captain, Max Kyte, came from England and played for Hill at Lake Tahoe Community College before transferring to WNC.

“We have lots of talent here,” Kyte said. About the team, Kyte said, “It’s got a lot of potential. We just need the potential to come together and to jell soon.”

Kyte and Santos saved up their money to come to the U.S. and also receive help from their families to meet living expenses. Hill said virtually all of the local players on the team work along with going to school to meet expenses.

It’s also led to what Kevin Carrillo, an all-state player from North Valleys, described. “It’s been a great experience to play with different styles and backgrounds and bring it all together.”

Hill has also been pleased with his women’s team. “We have an outstanding group of women. They are doing some outstanding things.”