It's not the World Cup, but CPCC soccer offers just as much excitement

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By: Aurelio Morel

Ever since the beginnings of the CPCC soccer team in 1998 it has been enriched with diversity. The team is made up of Central American, South American, African, Asian, European, Middle-Eastern and American players, said Jim Bailey, athletic coordinator of the CPCC soccer team.

The team is about 50 percent Latino. Many Latino players hail from soccer-loving countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico. “One of the good things about this team is that it brings together a very diverse group of people,” said Bailey.

The Players
One player, Claudio Tirado of Venezuela, has been playing for the CPCC Tigers for four seasons.

Tirado plays mid-field and helped his team win the championship in 2005. “If I could keep playing forever I would,” said Tirado.

Jason Murphy, an American player, has been with the CPCC Tigers for five seasons and has been captain of the team for three of those five. “I have been thinking about going professional,” said Murphy.

Murphy plays defensive sweeper and is a native of Baton Rouge, La. He played his first two high school years at North Mecklenburg, then returned to Louisiana to play his last two years..

Murphy led the CPCC soccer team to their first league championship in spring of 2001 and has since helped his team win two more league championships and three tournament championships. The 32-year-old Murphy is a real estate broker. He says he takes update classes at CPCC for his job.

As for the future, Murphy plans to continue to play for the CPCC Tigers for as long as he is taking classes at CPCC. “They just can’t seem to get rid of me,” said Murphy.

Many players have taken the experience gained from playing with the CPCC soccer team and moved on to bigger opportunities. A few players have gone on to play at four-year universities.

According to the CPCC soccer homepage, Brent Walbridge, who played mid-fielder for the CPCC Tigers in fall of 2005 was accepted into Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va. He will play varsity soccer there in the fall of 2006.

While some players were able to get into smaller four-year universities after leaving the CPCC soccer team, others were able to get in to major four-year universities. Several players have gone on to play for schools such as UNC Wilmington and the University of Virginia.

The Coaches
The CPCC soccer team is currently on its third coach since being established. The first coach was Jim Bailey. Bailey coached the team from 1998 through 2002.

Once the team received more money Bailey stepped down and hired another coach, Juan DeLucca. DeLucca coached from fall 2003 to spring 2005. During his three seasons with the team DeLucca enjoyed a good amount of success with the team, including a 2005 championship.

Currently, the coach is Alex Lyle. Lyle is a personal trainer for the Lake Norman Soccer Club and became coach in fall of 2005. The team is ranked third in the division since he became coach, said Lyle.

Lyle stresses the issues of teamwork, communication, accountability and trust in his coaching. “In the future I want to maintain the good quality of play,” said Lyle.

It is a bigger challenge to coach men rather than coaching children because it takes a lot more to earn their respect, said Lyle. The former mid-fielder with endless soccer experience, including playing two years in an Olympic development program and even playing in a recreational league in Israel, hopes that this coaching job will open doors to bigger opportunities.

The League
The CPCC Tigers play in the Adult Soccer League, said Bailey The team is sponsored by Student Life. During a season the league holds a few charity games. Such a game was played against Pfeiffer University in which the funds were donated to Hurricane Katrina victims.

The team roughly spends about $6,000 a year on expenses, said Bailey. These expenses include $1,000 a year in field rentals for their weekly practices at Independence Park and a $600 per season charge in league fees. The team plays eight regular season games per season, not including the tournament finals, said Bailey. The Tiger’s all- time best record was 10-1, including tournament play.

The tryouts are during the first three Thursdays of the semester. The final active roster consists of 20 players, with about 15 to 20 players on the reserved roster. “We generally try to build around a nucleus of players,” said Bailey.

Bailey desires players to be motivated, have a positive attitude, and be reliable. “The best type of ability is reliability,” said Bailey.