Men’s club soccer team awaits funding to travel to nationals

To nationals, or not to nationals? That is the question.

The 2012 men's club soccer team has become the first team in the club's seven year history to advance to nationals. However, they have yet to raise the $4,000 necessary to make the trip to Memphis, Tenn.

Building Success

Team captain Michael Offutt said the club has evolved from a leisurely club to a more dynamic program that has led to the building of a successful team.

The combination of Kenneth Christensen's coaching as well as talented players has helped improve the team, Matt Eckart said.

The Frogs contacted him in the spring of 2011 asking if he would be interested in volunteering to coach the club team, Christensen said.

Prior to 2011, the club never had a coach and the teams did very poorly, he said.

The way in which the team is formed has also been restructured, Christensen said. 

The men's club team has evolved from a team that allowed anyone to play to a competitive club that requires try-outs, Christensen said.

The team trains harder, is more focused and plays better because of the changes they have made, Travis Hayden said. 

At the beginning of the season, the Frogs set a goal of making it to the regional tournament,  Brett Battles said.

"We were looking toward regionals as our primary goal this year because it's been three years since [the club's] last trip to regionals," Offutt said.

The Battle at Regionals

WIth a 4-2-2 record in the regular season the Frogs were invited to compete in the Region IV South Conference Tournament in October.

After a tie game against the University of Texas San Antonio and claiming victory over St. Edwards and the University of Texas Dallas, the Frogs moved on to fight the Texas A&M Aggies for the national tournament bid.

The Frogs clinched the national bid by beating the Aggies 3-1 in a shoot-out after both teams remained scoreless after two 45 minute halves and 15 minutes of overtime. 

"It feels great to be part of this accomplishment, but I honestly would rather be talking about winning nationals, the true accomplishment that we are striving for," Hayden said. 

But he may not get that chance.

Despite the Frogs' victory at the regional tournament their season could come to a premature end. And it could happen without stepping on the field. 

The Frogs faced the University of North Texas Eagles, defeated the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, and battled the Southern Methodist University Mustangs but the Frogs are currently facing their toughest challenger yet; financial funding.

Show Me the Money

While the team's $1,150 entry fee has been covered by the cash award received for winning the national bid game, the team still has to raise a minimum of $4,000 in order to compete in the NIRSA National Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. on Nov. 15-17, Christensen said. 

Competing in the NIRSA National Tournament would give the team the opportunity to face teams such as Pennsylvania State, Harvard, The U.S. Navy Academy and the University of Texas, Christensen said.

"This is our chance to put TCU on the map in terms of club soccer," Battles said. 

The team has received aid from both the Student Government Association as well as the Recreation Center totaling $3,250, Christensen said.

The funds will cover travel to and from Memphis and hotel costs for four nights. It does not include meals or needed gear, he said. 

Through online donations and possibly offering a soccer clinic for young kids in the surrounding area the team hopes to meet the minimal amount as well as raise additional funds.

If the Frogs are unable to raise the $4,000 they will be forced to forfeit and will miss out on the chance to compete at the national level.

"It's troublesome to think that our national bid rests on the hinges of a financial basis, especially after all the hard work we have put into the last four months," Offutt said.

Playing for each other

The team has been able to advance as far as it has because its members' desire to do well not only for themselves but for each other as well, Eckart said.

"The biggest motivation this season has been the thought of not wanting to disappoint your teammates," he said. "You didn't want to be that one guy who is being lazy and being detrimental to the team," Eckart said.

"In the end, club sports are student run and student funded, so we are responsible for our destiny," Offutt said.