September 18, 2001

Broncos' Show Must Go On

By Dean Caparaz, Correspondent
collegesoccer.com

Sept. 18, 2001

Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara was one of many schools affected by the tragic events back East. The Broncos had a big matchup with perennial power Notre Dame on Friday, Sept. 14, and a match with growing power Cal on Sunday, Sept. 16. Both matches were postponed in light of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11.

The Cal match was moved to Monday, Sept. 17. Santa Clara is trying to reschedule the game with the Irish.

"We're working on it, but it's going to be difficult," Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. "It's still a possibility at this point. It would have to be a Notre Dame game here. We have a long-term deal with them, home and away. We were at their place last year and are scheduled to be at their place next year.

"The last time we played Notre Dame there were over 4,000 spectators there. It's an opportunity for us to draw a gate and a fun atmosphere.

"Everything is pretty open. It would have to be a mid-week game. Both schools are trying to see what's best for us. They do have a fall break, which could be a target."

Smith says postponing the games was the right decision, though he and his players saw both sides of the issue.

"Part of me says that everything is so insignificant compared to what happened, but part of me also says that you've got to keep trudging on," Santa Clara midfielder Aly Wagner said. "Like our administration says, 'If we stop our lives, the terrorists win even more so.' I wish we could've played this weekend, but I completely understand."

"It's a double-edged sword," Smith said. "On the one hand, you want to reestablish some normalcy. If you don't, the longer it takes, the bigger a victory it is for the terrorists who committed this act. But at the same time, do the players really have the energy, drive, determination, will to compete in what obviously in comparison is a very trivial thing? And do spectators really want to see that right now and cheer in the stands? It was a good decision to postpone everything."

The Broncos trained Wednesday through Friday. There was a somber mood at Wednesday's session, just one day after the attacks. Smith wanted his players to enjoy each other's company rather than stay at home and watch the news about the devastation on television. Classes at Santa Clara didn't start until Monday.

The tragedy hit close to home, as some of the players knew one of the passengers, another Santa Clara student, on the plane bound for San Francisco.

"Deora Bodley would've been a junior here," Smith said. "It's a small school. Everybody knows everyone."

The postponements also affected Smith's recruiting, as seven recruits were supposed to visit the campus and watch both games this past weekend. Seeing a prospective school hosting two nationally ranked teams, especially the highly regarded Irish, could have helped persuade high school players to attend Santa Clara.

Six of the seven decided not to visit over the weekend. One still wanted to come, even though she wouldn't see Santa Clara play, because the visit wouldn't fit into her own schedule any other time.

"We recommended they not come in," Smith said. "We told them, 'We'll be in touch with you next week to reschedule.' ... We're trying to let them know they're extremely important to us, but at the same time given the events that took place last week, it doesn't seem as critical. I hope they feel the same way. As I told the recruits and our team, playing soccer and competing in games and recruiting, which normally seem so important to us, seem so trivial to me right now. I'm sure we'll get back on it."

womenssoccer.com 2001