Sept. 29, 2005
By: Amy Moraczewski
After defeating California and San Jose State by scores of 2-1, the Santa Clara women's soccer team turns its sights to another Bay Area rival on Friday, when they face the Stanford Cardinal. These contests are all intense, as each team attempts to prove itself as the best Bay Area team. Players from the area understand this challenge more than others and appreciate the privilege to compete against local teams and former teammates in front of a home crowd.
The Bay Area has become a hotbed for soccer, consistently competing for national championships from the youth to college levels. The challenge for local college coaches is to keep the players in the area, using local talent to lead the strong programs. But there are many competitive college teams in the Bay Area, so what makes Santa Clara University stand out to local players?
For Tina Estrada (Fremont, Washington HS), the community at SCU was the difference. "Since my decision came down to Cal and Santa Clara, I wanted a school that had a more community-enriched feeling. I did not want to go to a classroom filled with a hundred students and never talk to the professor who was teaching me. I also chose Santa Clara for its amazing soccer program. This includes its tradition, coaches and Bronco family."
Danielle Potts (Danville, San Ramon Valley HS) echoes this sentiment. "From the moment I stepped on campus, I pretty much knew I was coming here. But after meeting the girls and spending time with them, I knew SCU would be my new home for the next four years. Not one other school could even come close to comparing; it was obvious how much the girls cared about each other and the pride they all took in being a part of such an amazing experience, and it made me want to be a part of it."
After attending Arizona State University her freshman season, Kira Sarkisian (Saratoga, St. Francis HS) transferred to Santa Clara, with a greater appreciation for the school, the program, and the honor to play at home in the Bay Area. "Jerry is an incredible coach, and he puts together a team with great chemistry, heart, and passion for the game. It is an honor to be a part of such a tradition, and even more so because I have friends and family close by to watch me through my college seasons."
When competing against other Bay Area teams, including Stanford, California, and San Jose State, local players often face former teammates, or players they have competed against for years. Both sides are intrinsically motivated to step up for these games, aware that it is an opportunity to gain the so-called "Bay Area Bragging Rights."
"It's fun playing against players that I've known forever. Although it gets personal on the field sometimes, you have a certain respect for those players you know, and it's always a healthy competition," says Bonnie Bowman (San Carlos, Notre Dame HS).
"Playing against former teammates makes the game much more exciting to play," Estrada elaborates. "It makes the motivation to win even stronger. It also puts you in a good mood no matter what the outcome is. If you win, it makes the feeling a little sweeter. If you lose, you are still happy for your old teammate on the other team."
Local players are in a unique position to give back to the soccer community from which they came. Ten years ago, they were the children in the stands, in awe of the players and waiting for autographs after the game. By attending games and following the team for years, local players have a greater appreciation for the tradition of Santa Clara soccer, as well as the meaning of the "Bay Area Bragging Rights."
Potts, in her freshman year, already values the benefit of playing in front of a familiar crowd. "Having my family, friends, and younger players from my former club come out cheering me on pushes me every game to do my best. It makes me very proud to be wearing a Santa Clara jersey. Having people from home coming to watch me play and having people I know come up to me after the game gives me a sense of pride, and having them there only makes my experience here at Santa Clara that much better."
Sarkisian agrees, "Having community support is really important to me because after growing up watching the Broncos play and asking for autographs after the game myself, I almost get teary-eyed when kids come up to me and ask for an autograph. I would be happy to sign autographs forever - because I know what it is like to stand in line waiting for the Santa Clara girls to sign my shirts, cleats, and hats. Bronco games on the weekends were always so fun! The College Cup at Spartan Stadium, the infamous 99 team! I saw it all and being a Bronco now means even more!"
Local players may have a deeper understanding of the history and meaning of soccer in the Bay Area, but all members of the team realize the importance of these games, and in order to secure the bragging rights, they must defeat Stanford on Friday night. The game will be played at 7:30 at Maloney Field on the Stanford campus. As expressed by the local SCU players, community support is greatly appreciated. Remember that today's fans are tomorrow's players!