Despite budget woes, men’s soccer here to stay

Earlier this year, men’s soccer came back to Santa Monica College after 19 years of hibernation. With funding for California community colleges repeatedly being cut and the outcome of Prop 30 still to be determined, adding a new sport to the athletic program could have been a shaky financial decision. The athletics program alone has experienced a 33 percent cut in funding over the last four years, according to SMC Athletic Director Joe Cascio.

In spite of this, Cascio was able to find ways to fund the new soccer team without adding to the school’s expenditures. According to Cascio, it took approximately $9 thousand to run the men’s soccer team this year, making it less costly than most of the major sports such as football and basketball.

“We did a budget overhaul where we revamped the way we spend money. Instead of spending more, we took the avenue of spending smarter,” he said.

One example of this smarter spending was finding a new clinic for the athlete’s medical exams, saving them approximately 55 percent of the athletic department’s annual medical costs.

In addition, the athletic department was able to avoid the danger of Prop 30’s possible defeat by approving the addition of the men’s soccer team back in January of this year.

Thus, the men’s soccer season at SMC opened on August 31. The Corsairs ended their season at 9-6-5.

Head Coach Tim Pierce reflected on what it felt like to be named SMC’s first men’s soccer coach in 19 years.

“I’m excited and grateful at the opportunity. It’s an honor to be named the coach,” Pierce said. “It’s been a great first season.”

According to SMC President and Superintendent Chui L. Tsang, when the decision was made that men’s soccer was going to attempt to make a comeback, students were overwhelmingly in favor of bringing back the sport.

“There was a survey done. The results demonstrated that soccer was, by far, the runaway preference for students as an intercollegiate sport,” Tsang said.

The student survey fulfilled one of the three requirements the athletic department had to meet in order to add a new sports team to the school. The three requirements were that there be significant interest on campus, sufficient competition from neighboring community colleges, and sufficient competition from neighboring high schools.

Cascio stated that each of these requirements to bring back men’s soccer were “met with ease.”

Tsang believes in the importance of athletics as a whole.

“Athletic teams are learning communities,” he said. “Students use them to form group identity and reinforce each other’s positive behavior.”