Illustration by Genevieve Humphreys
My two and a half years here have undoubtedly been some of the best of my life. I have found a community of like minded people, both in the classroom and on the soccer team. I have enjoyed traveling the country playing the sport I love with my brothers. I am grateful for every opportunity I have received to further my athletic development. Coming from New Zealand, this is something I would not have been able to experience had I gone to school back home. However, despite all of this, I am of the belief that the Trinity men’s soccer program has underlying functional issues that no one really speaks about for fear of reprimand.
Trinity Men’s Soccer is based on the foundational belief to win at all costs. While this is reasonable for a professional team, full of hardened individuals who are paid to compete, the effects are different for a college soccer team. In pursuit of this ultimate goal, the management of the program has proven themselves willing to disregard its players. For example, it seems that the coaching staff over-recruits every year. I am all for competition, but many of these players come to Trinity with the expectation that they will at least be part of the team. I’m not talking about walk-ons, or players who have been told they probably won’t make the team but come anyway, I’m talking about players who are recruited under the impression that they will make the team. Players who turn down opportunities to play at other schools, who come to Trinity and are cut. To me, this demonstrates a disregard for the player, who may have chosen otherwise if he had known he would not be part of the team.
In my experience, expressions of favoritism are also not uncommon. These expressions are not always based on that player’s performance. Players should get picked because they play well, not because they are liked by coach, and that is a principle I feel can not be disputed.
I’m never one to complain about playing time, but it certainly adds to the frustration of the experience when certain players are being afforded opportunities that other players deserve.
My own experience with the management of Trinity Soccer has been a mixed bag. I can’t recall an instance where I have spoken to Coach Paul McGinlay individually about my experience with the program or role in the team. I’ve sat outside his office for an hour, waiting to speak to him, only to leave out of frustration. The one time I conversed with him one-on-one was when I expressed my interest in transferring out of Trinity; to his credit, he truly did try his best to help me out, and for that I will always be grateful. However, it shouldn’t be that the only contact I have with Coach is in this kind of circumstance.
I also know that my experience with Coach is shared; many of the player-coach relationships within the program are extremely strained. As a result, it is not uncommon for players to drop out of the team, as many have in the past. Not all of them leave for reasons rooted in relationships with the coaching staff, but undoubtedly, some do. Not everyone has an open, communicative relationship with Coach, and this is something I think is not unreasonable to be able to expect.
There are other team-related issues that I could speak of in a similar manner to the one above. But in fear of misrepresenting the whole program, I aim to speak solely of my own experience. I would hate for someone to get the wrong impression of Trinity Men’s soccer. That being said, it seems like many on campus already have an impression of our team; an impression that we have done ourselves no favors in creating. This is perhaps most perfectly represented by our appearance on a shirt in the Clothesline Project, the purpose of which was to provide a platform for victims of sexual abuse to speak out against their aggressors. The project was a perfect way for those on campus to identify organizations who mistreat women; unsurprisingly, Trinity men’s soccer was one of them. While it hurt me to see our name up there, not for one second did I think to discredit the claim.
I do believe that Trinity men’s soccer team has substantial issues that need to be addressed. That being said, this program has offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will always be thankful to the coaching staff and my teammates for allowing be to be part of such an experience. In terms of next steps, I am hopeful that Trinity Men’s Soccer will do a better job of establishing a better on-campus reputation. I also acknowledge the substantial time and effort it takes for a coaching staff to manage a men’s varsity athletic team. It is no easy task and at no given moment will every team member be happy. However, in the case of Trinity Men’s Soccer, more can be done.