August 20, 2006

2006 Bronco Men's Soccer Blog

Aug. 20, 2006

Senior Keith DeVey will provide weekly commentary right here throughout the Bronco men's soccer team's 2006 season as part of the new Bronco Blogs feature on santaclarabroncos.com. From the hot double day practices of August to the glory of the NCAA Tournament in November, DeVey will provide Bronco fans with his own personal view of the current state of the team, his life as a soccer player, and his life as a student at Santa Clara.

DeVey comes into the season with 14 career goals after having led the team each of the past two seasons. The Kula, Hawaii native is a two-time All-WCC Honorable Mention selection and one of the program's last links to the 2003 team that advanced to the College Cup. Also a standout in the classroom, DeVey was named to the WCC All-Academic team in 2004 and 2005, while earning ESPN The Magazine All-District honors in both of those years as well.

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Posted: Nov. 1, 2006
One Moment
Everyone has an event or two in their life that has affected the outcome of where they are today. Allow me to clarify with a simple anecdote. Your car may have broken down and the person that stopped to help you ended up becoming a close friend who eventually introduced you to your spouse. A simple car problem surprisingly shaped your entire future. You may be wondering where I am going with this, but stay with me. My entire college experience, the lifelong friends I have made, the living arrangements I have had, and the fact that I am writing an online blog representing the life of a SCU D1 athlete can all be traced back to one single minute event that happened on the Santa Clara University training field over five years ago.

It was the summer of 2002, and I was an 18 year old kid. I had sent out letters and highlight videos to over 10 college coaches who all failed to respond, and yes Cam was one of them. Somehow I was allowed to tryout with Santa Clara as a walk-on. I felt like an outsider looking in the entire week of tryouts. Try outs were rough and I was overwhelmed by the resumes of some of the players that were on the team. National team this and regional ODP player that. I vividly remember calling my mother from the Leavey Center pay phone the last morning of tryouts and telling her that there was no chance in hell I was gonna make the team and for her to pick me up around 4pm so I could leave the dorms without all the guys seeing that I had been cut. Then a miracle happened. My life changing event.

The very last practice of tryouts the coaches decided to have some fun and just have us guys play a 6 vs 6 tournament. A ball got crossed to me in the air and I jumped up and biked it into the goal past our starting goalie. The goal was breathtaking. It was the kind of shot that I would have missed one thousand other times, but this time the stars were aligned. I remember a calm silence after I had scored. No player or coach knew what to do. Our assistant coach at the time, Arzi, was refereeing the game and didn't even blow his whistle to indicate a goal. His lips were frozen in awe. It was the first time any player had made eye contact with me the entire week of practice. Something magical had just happened.

I had my meeting with the coaches and they told me they decided they would keep me on the roster.

I tell this story only because I will be playing my last home game on Buckshaw this Sunday. Just recently, I scored my 19th goal and earned my way into the top 10 all-time in goal scoring in Santa Clara history. Reporters and friends have asked me how symbolic and important my 19th career goal has been. Well, lets just say, it will not compare the least bit to the most life changing goal I have every scored in my life. I would not be the person I am today, you would not be reading my blog, and I would not be honored on Sunday as a graduating senior. And that my friends will be going through me head when I hear my name called on Sunday afternoon.

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Posted: Oct. 25, 2006
The Spotlight
Growing up, I had never really seen a college soccer match. I had however seen sold out college football games on TV and movies such as Rudy which portrayed college athletes as immortal gods. I began to imagine the treatment I would receive if I one day played college soccer. Roll out the red carpet. Set the table with the finest china and most expensive crystal. Girls get in line and take a number (sorry mom). DeVey had made the SCU men's soccer team. I quickly find out, my imaginations were just that, and I felt about as important on campus as a referee in a WWF wrestling match. All joking aside, there are some occasions where we college athletes really do feel like the real deal. Some examples are listed below.

This last home game we had an autograph session after the game for our fans. To think that people actually want our autograph (which probably devalues the 5 cent poster) blows my mind. Just imagine a young kid coming into your office building, walking up to your cubicle, and asking you to autograph his shirt because he loves your work. The experience is quite rewarding. Sadly for me, I think this is the last time I will be asked for my autograph...until I am served my divorce papers...ha!

Sometimes, and I stress sometimes, students will come up to us at social gatherings, and comment on how well they thought we played. As we politely smile and thank them for coming to the game, we can pick up on a slight nervousness in their voice and body language, as if not wanting to say something stupid in front of us. How ironic, since 60% of the time I say something stupid every time.

When we are traveling, we are required to wear a coat and tie. Imagine 20 young, athletic looking, male adults, dressed nicely, carrying thousands of dollars worth of adidas merchandise through an airport. Other passengers begin to ask questions. Are you guys some sort of team? You begin to notice eyes staring at you and people whispering to one another. We are the topic of conversation, and put simply, that's kind of cool. Stewardesses at times announce over the P.A that our team is traveling on that particular flight. Passengers lean over and ask how our season is going and where Santa Clara University is because they have never heard of it. It's true, it seems as if our school is about as well as known as that small independent film that won last years Oscar for best adapted screenplay. That will all change once we bring home the national championship. We players often forget or take for granted that we are division 1 athletes. These are helpful reminders of our accomplishments.

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Posted: Oct. 18, 2006
All About Family
Many people have asked me how I come up with my topics for these blogs. The formula is quite simple. I simply think of a soccer story that I have experienced during my tenure on the team and how I can safely (in a rated PG 13 format) regurgitate it into a creative piece of writing. Sometimes it is easier than others! The following is a description of the Santa Clara Soccer Family Unit. This one's a doozie.

The Father: The coaches. You don't want to be around them when they are upset, because they are the disciplinarians. In a way, we are always seeking their approval.

The mother: The trainers of course (..sorry Scott and Cembi). They are always there to nurture and protect. They make sure our bodies don't completely fall apart before the season is over.

The big brothers: Anyone that is currently on the team and has been on the team more than one year. We provide wisdom to the freshman. We have witnessed Father mad in the past and instruct the freshman how the family can stay on his good side.

The little brothers (or some may call them little sisters): Yup, the freshman. They are so young and naïve. They are sponges absorbing the actions and competitive mindsets of their bigger brothers. They are eager to show that they can handle the load and responsibilities of their bigger brothers and want to have a more substantial role to the family circuit. Thankfully, they "volunteer" their efforts to help out around the house by cleaning the locker room, filling water bottles, etc.

Half brothers: Any past teammate that has left the team because of injuries, other life choices, or have been kicked off. They are still part of our close family; we just don't see them quite as frequently.

Grandpa's: The Alumni! They are going to hate me for this one, but it's true. They come to the games and reminisce about the good old days when they were still playing at SCU. Picture grandpa pulling the young toddlers onto his lap for story time. "When grandpa was your age, we didn't have all this fancy equipment and cool uniforms. The coaches used to run us into the ground."

That is the SC soccer family unit. In less than two months, I too will be a grandpa.

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Posted: Oct. 11, 2006
The Soccer Carousel
The weekly soccer schedule and routine is much like a carousel. I know what you're thinking, Keith and his crazy analogies, but hear me out. There are many ups and downs as we cycle through the week and eventually we travel full circle back to where we started. Much like a person in the working world, some days bring more joy/pain than others. This is our cycle.

Thursday: An early morning practice the day before a game. Everyone is in a happy and sociable mood. Practice will most likely be shorter than usual so we can all rest our bodies. The drills showcase our technical abilities and how well we can play without pressure.

Friday: Game day baby! As soon as we wake up we are anxious and excited. My bones feel different. It's hard to explain. Class attendance and participation is at an all time low because our mind is focused on something else.

Saturday: Two possible feelings can occur. If we won, an ultimate high. We are arrogant. We strut around like peacocks displaying their impressive array of feathers. Coaches are cracking jokes and practice is a walk in the park. If we lost, somber faces accompanied with complete silence. Practice is longer and focused on quick fixes.

Sunday: Basically the same as Friday. We are all anticipating the mid-afternoon game.

Monday: The best day in the world! We have the whole day to ourselves. I have a perma-smile as soon as my head leaves my pillow that morning. The day is equivalent to Sunday for the hard working businessman who loves watching NFL football all day in his Lazy Boy. Get my drift? The most productive thing I do on Monday is tie my shoes.

Tuesday: Hell on Earth. Armageddon. The sky is falling! Our early morning practice always concludes with running, which arrives about as promptly as a train on a strict schedule. I believe the New Testament uses the saying "a Camel passing through the eye of a needle" to describe a close to impossible scenario. Well, a Boeing 747 would have to fly through a keyhole for us to pass some of these running tests. Having experienced these days for 4 years now, they don't hit me as hard as they do the freshman. This is definitely one of our lowest points in the week.

Wednesday: This is the day we all kind of question what day it is. Are we close to our next game yet? Why isn't it Friday already? At least it's not Tuesday!

And that's the ride on the soccer carousel.

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Posted: Oct. 4, 2006
Pineapples and Mangos
I was recently asked if my high school soccer experience on Maui helped prepare me for Division I soccer. To compare the two would be comparing apples and oranges, or pineapples and mangos, for my island readers. Let me take you through a short comparison just for giggles. In high school: my coach was a prison guard at Maui County Correctional Facilities. No disrespect.
In college: my coach captained the USA Olympic team.
In high school: the referees allowed us to wear our jerseys un-tucked, because over the years the washing machine had shrunk them so much they were not long enough to tuck into our shorts. We played in midriffs.
In college: adidas is the name of the game. Free cleats, jerseys, warm-ups, shorts, socks, running shoes, polo's, backpacks, travel bags.
In high school: the farthest we ever ran was to the Dairy Queen around the block for a shave ice. Literally. The coach told us to go on a 20 minute run one time, so we ran over to Dairy Queen (1 minute), placed our orders (15 minutes), ate the treats (4 minutes), and ran back. I know what you're thinking... and yes, our Dairy Queen was very slow.
In college: Let's just say we beat the track team last year at a RUNNING event.
In high school: We practiced on half of the field because the girls' team needed the other half. Holes, sand, mud, and missing grass was the norm.
In college: We get to play on the whole field, although ironically the field quality is about the same... (haha).
In high school: My friends and I would practice shooting all day and brag about who had the sweetest volley or bike. Concluding practice with world cup or 6 v 6.
In college: keep away, funneling, and situational play.
As you can see the two scenarios don't really compare. College soccer is so much more professional. I do not intend to cast a shadow over my high school soccer experience, or the Maui Interscholastic League, because I can easily say I enjoyed the sport and the love of the game more than ever when in that environment. Some day I hope to return to Maui and coach high school soccer, so I can once again obtain that feeling of bliss and nirvana on the field.

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Posted: Sept. 27, 2006
Nap Time

Being a student athlete is quite a time commitment. Classes and practice alone take up anywhere from four to five hours a day. If you are like me, and your body has been running like a used car the past month or so, you can tack on an additional hour or so a day spent in the training room. If your grades are sub-par, or you are an incoming freshman, chalk up another six hours a week in mandatory study hall. There are pre-game meals, team meetings, and video critiques that also must be scheduled in. After all these commitments are fulfilled, there are certain trends I have noticed as to how teammates spend the remainder of their time.

First and foremost, the coveted "nap." Let me clearly define what a nap is in terms of a soccer player who just had an early morning practice of running. To us, the nap is the light at the end of the tunnel. We know if we can just pay attention for a couple more minutes in class, or run a couple more sprints, we will soon be in the comfort of our own bed. The room is as dark as possible, cold as possible, and quiet as possible. The nap is long and amazing every time. It is not unusual to plan our day's events around the nap.

Second in importance is finding food. The upperclassmen tend to hoard around the freshman like remora's clinging to the underbelly of sharks. We know that the freshmen possess the golden ticket...the fully loaded access card! The freshmen treat the upperclassmen to such pleasures as jump start smoothies and breakfast burritos.

The remainder of time is spent doing anything and everything that can be done sitting or lying down. No joke. Some play video games, others watch DVDs, and the brave few complete readings and homework assignments.

I must finish up now, because writing this blog is beginning to eat away at my nap time.

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Posted: Sept. 20, 2006
The Locker Room

Many Bronco fans, high school dreamers, and curious parents may wonder about the inner workings of the University soccer team. In this blog, I will describe the legendary headquarters where much of our plotting, strategizing, and prepping occurs... the locker room.

To infiltrate our locker room, you must first enter a four-digit password into the encrypted door. The combination itself holds a special significance to members of the team and can't easily be forgotten. Once inside, you will see that the room is split into two separate quarters. To the immediate left (my favorite area), a couple of couches surround a television and Nintendo Gamecube set-up. It is quite a sight to see competitive collegiate athletes duel it out at MarioKart or NFL Blitz. The resultant trash talking is unparalleled.

The main, larger room is arranged in a rectangle, with lockers bordering the perimeter. Each player has his own full locker with name plate, number, and home town written on it. The carpets and lockers are painted Santa Clara red, with our school insignia embossed into the floor. Hanging from each locker is our freshly washed training gear, ready to be adorned.

I realize that to most current players, this description may sound boring and routine, but to young aspiring athletes it is a room dreamed of--and the symbol of soccer's prestigious few. Personally, I will never forget the first time I stepped foot into the locker room my freshman year. I froze. My muscles tightened up, my breathing stopped, and my eyes slowly scanned the room. It was my first realization that I had made the soccer team and was a somebody. There are certain intangibles that grace the locker room that only players will feel, and it feels good.

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Posted: Sept. 13, 2006
Pre-game Routine

Our coaches stress the importance of routine on game days. We wake up early and meet on the game field to start running the game through our mind. Half the time, I find myself running last night's dreams through my head--maybe I'm just not a morning person.

Four hours before the game we meet for a pre-game meal. If it is a home game, we dine at Pasta Pomodoro. If it is an away game, some alternate pasta chain. Ironically, the restaurant dining and elegant atmosphere is a step up from my normal cuisine routine of: a box of mac and cheese, chicken and rice, or grilled cheese sandwiches. I have always wanted to copyright a 100 page college cook book where the first three pages would have recipes and the last 97 pages would be blank, so they could be ripped out and used to clean up the mess you will inevitably make.

Some players have strict routines or even superstitions they must adhere to on game days. Eric Ustruck eats about 1/100 of his pre-game pasta to avoid stomach problems. Jeff Cosgriff eats a Snickers bar right before kickoff. Amaechi fusses over last minute alterations to his cleats. What color does he want to paint them and what color shoe lace should he string in? Personally, I have only one routine. I show up at the locker room, where the game uniforms are laid out in front of our lockers, and scavenge around for an XL pair of shorts. Usually, this means switching shorts assigned to Jide or Curry (taller guys) with those assigned to me...sorry guys, secret's out. Growing up on Maui, I have become accustomed to wearing board shorts that extend a modest distance down my thighs.

Whatever schedule different teammates decide to follow, it seems to be working. We haven't lost yet. And Cam... Please order more XL game shorts, I think they are becoming an endangered species!

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Posted: Sept. 7, 2006
DeVey, Away

Having experienced road trips for four years now, it is fun to see how some aspects are changing, while others remain the same. I will start with one of the new trends.

Traditionally the older players have fought for the coveted "shotgun" seat in the mini vans, where the radio station/volume can be monopolized, air-conditioning is absorbed most directly, and the leg room is phenomenal. This trip, I found myself fighting for the second row of seats (which I almost always won without complaint). Why the change you ask? This row presented the best viewing of the 6-inch fold down TV monitors that have been installed into the newest mini-vans. I must have seen at least three full-length movies on DVD during our driving excursions.

There are other small nuances that have changed, (we no longer gamble to see whose luggage will be seen first on the conveyer belt on arrival) but I will focus on the timeless traits that have been with the team since I have been here and will carry on in the future. Veterans and alumni, you should enjoy this:

1. The guilty pleasure of watching the freshman go to the self serve ice-cream station at the all-u-can-eat places, concocting some "Picasso-esque" behemoth of a dessert, only to have it taken away by Cam the minute they return to the table. The look on the saddened freshman's face gets me every time.

2. The mind games, riddles, and brainteasers that all the upperclassman confuse the underclassman with at team meals. The riddles include a number guessing game involving the arrangement of silverware, the bang bang game, and my jumping toothpick trick. These games rattled my brain as a freshman and cause more annoyance than a recurring rash.

3. Yamo's unspoken yet clearly visible goal to get to every driving destination first, usually using some secret back roads and streets.

I could go on and on, but I am limited to the amount of writing I can submit. I will end with a personal tradition of mine on road trips, which is playing pranks on Use. He is now my travel roommate so we have agreed to an armistice... I still managed to stack peanuts all over him undetected while he was sleeping on our plane flight home!

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Posted: August 29, 2006
Preseason: DeVey Gets An X-Ray

A couple of weeks ago, Tiger Woods was quoted as saying he wanted his children to play a more physical sport than soccer...come on bro, you play golf!

In my four years on the Santa Clara University soccer team, I have cracked my collar bone, lacerated my head twice, had nose reconstructive surgery, and sprained my ankle about as frequently as Tiger drives the fairway. One injury I sustained in a Stanford match required me to see a urologist, but I will not go into specifics. I think you can figure it out. Looks like I can still manufacture children. The manila medical folder with my name on it in the SCU training room is about as thick as the yellow pages.

Despite my average of two or three medical setbacks per year, I must say I have been pretty lucky. Teammate Scott Sweeney has broken his leg so many times a steel rod was finally screwed into his leg. Freshman Ross Smith had his front tooth knocked out during practice a couple of days ago, making it the second tooth that has been knocked out of his mouth in the last month. The first time he lost his tooth we found it in the lacerated head of teammate Ryan Brown.

This Monday was our team's first day off since the beginning of tryouts. Unfortunately, I spent it at an early meeting with a doctor, taking X-rays to check if my ribs had been broken during a collision with the Cal goalie in the previous night's game. I am pretty certain I will be fine, and hopefully this is my last visit to the doctor this season. In hindsight, my injuries aren't that severe. I still have a beautiful smile...so I've been told.

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Posted: August 20, 2006
Preseason: The Long Voyage

For those who have never experienced a Division I men's soccer preseason, I will attempt to describe the ineffable by using a simple analogy, that of an ancient sea voyage to a foreign land.

Our team starts the preseason full of energy and excitement as we are eager to start training and set sail on a new adventure. Captains are selected, in our case, Peter, Jamil, and Ustruck, whose job it is to guide our team through the upcoming obstacles we will inevitably face. Sadly, some players are left behind, on the dock, as coaches make their final cuts. The players will be missed and not forgotten.

The first couple of days are filled with tutorials on proper defending tactics. As we get deeper into the preseason, we begin to lose track of days. Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays become a blur of monotonous repetition...eat, sleep, play soccer. After practices in the blistering heat, we retreat to our quarters, the dark dorm rooms of Graham Hall 300.

Some days, we are hit with tidal waves and other types of turbulence in the form of fitness training and running drills. The rookies are caught off guard by the drills, panic gracing their faces, as the veterans, having weathered similar storms in the past, confront the obstacles head-on with a determined arrogance. As the journey continues day in and day out, certain players begin to disappear, plagued by injures and muscle fatigue.

Finally, on the horizon, we see a glimpse of hope. LAND! In less than a week we will be playing our first game (Stanford) and our preseason voyage will come to an end. The clouds are starting to part as practices ease up on the body and focus on tactical play and strategy. Once again, we realize the reason we originally set sail on this grueling journey, the pride in declaring we are all Division I athletes at one of the nation's best soccer programs. Now all that is left to do...drop anchor and prove it.