Friday, January 16, 2009

Soccer in America: Soccer with James Parker, Manhattan KS

The Interviewee's Music Picks!


I met James while playing pick-up soccer at K-State. He is a talented player who is heavily involved with the K-State Men’s Club Team.

Who is James?
Hi James, would you give the readers a quick background of yourself?
I’m a fourth year right now at K-State in the architecture department. I grew up in Manhattan, and played football and soccer there.

What’s your first memory of soccer? How far back can you go?
It may be one of those that’s more ingrained in my dad’s memory. My dad forgot to sign me up for city league soccer. I was sitting there just bawling my brains out at the city department because I wasn’t on the team. I was crying, wouldn’t get in the car, pissed off at the world. My dad felt pretty horrible and he reminds me of it time in time out.

You played both Football and Soccer in High-School?
I gave it a shot. I was just a kicker. I played four years of soccer, three varsity. I wanted to try something different. Me and my friend both did a multi-sport same season our senior year. We were both kickers for the football team and members of the soccer team. It pretty hectic but it was a blast.

What are your soccer aspirations do you have hopes for semi-pro or professional soccer?
I’ve always gone back and forth with that. Soccer has been my passion and dream since I was a little kid. I love soccer so much, I could easily see myself doing it but at the same time it’s so much training. I know I have the basic skill-talent to do it but I don’t have much time to train so the dream starts to fall away.

When I go to Europe this next spring I really want to get out there and play and see if I can hop onto some semi pro teams.

What is K-State Club Soccer?

How did you become involved with the Kansas State Men's Club Soccer?
Actually the first year of college I pursed football and went and kicked at a community college. I realized that football wasn’t my sport, I just had too much of a passion for soccer and love for the game.

I came back to K-State because I knew I wanted to do architecture. I was out playing one afternoon when a few guys off the team told me to come out for try outs. I didn’t even know K-State had a team. At this point the team wasn’t structured that well, there wasn’t any real direction on the team so I said, “OK, I’ll give it a try.”

When does your season run? You have games in the Fall?
There are actually two seasons. The main core of the season runs in the fall. We’ll get a good 15 games in. It really comes down to how much time we have to travel.

We do a little in the spring. We have a tournament and bring teams in from around the Midwest, teams like Creighton, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

How is the club led? Do you have a president or coach?
It’s set up president, vice president, secretary treasurer. Because it’s a club you’ve got to give everyone a title. When it comes down to it as far as importance, everyone has basically the same duties, equal responsibility. Just because you’re president doesn’t mean you do all the work.

Have you ever had an official coach? How do you manage the coaching duties?
I know the girls have had a coach in the past. They’ve liked it but not having a coach becomes an advantage for certain players at K-State. They are there for mainly academics so they aren’t really focused as much on training and getting better. They make practices when they can.

As far as drills we don’t have anyone setting them up. We just get out there. That’s the only thing that sucks about it because everyone is busy and we have so much on our plate we aren’t able to sit down and say “Hey, here is what we need to work on tonight, here is what we need to improve on.”

The thing I love about K-State is so many different nationalities are represented. Do you know how many different countries are represented on the club team?
Right now I believe there are four of five. We had a few guys from China, a guy from Japan, a few guys from the Middle East, and a few guys from Europe also.

What’s you assessment of the talent level at Kansas State?
There is a lot of good talent that comes out. We’d be competing with division one programs, maybe not the top teams but competing.

It’s hard to see such good talent. They should be able to play somewhere bigger and better but the fact of the matter is they’re at K-State.

A lot of people think “The club team, oh they are going to be bad," but they don’t realize that they are some of the best players you will see in the Midwest but they are focusing more on academics because here in America there is really no outlet for soccer.

K-State Soccer and Nationals

What kind of support do you get from K-State?
We get a little bit of money from the school. It ends up being divided out even through the Recreation Complex between all sports clubs. We don’t get as much support as we like. But at the same time there is money and we are able to fundraise and do what we need to do to get by.

I noticed we were really running into troubles with the Kansas State when we made it to nationals. It was the first time K-State had done it.

We had approximately one month do get down there [Pensacola, Florida]. We didn’t necessarily have support from the school but there were quite a few nice ladies who worked at K-State who saw what we were trying to do and accomplish. They set up a nice soccer clinic. We got quite a good showing last year and raised quite a bit of money.

I know the club team has had some success, you went to nationals last year, how did you do in that tournament?
I think it was more a learning experience. That’s what everyone always says but there is some merit to that because we faced some great competition. We faced Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Michigan.

The teams we faced all had coaches. That’s where we first saw the difference between what we had and the other top schools. They were able to train before the game while we were kinda standing around not really knowing what to do. It took us a good 15-20 minutes to get in the grove of the game and ready to play and by that time we were already down a goal and fighting back the rest of the time.

Men’s and Woman’s Soccer in the Big XII
Why is there no Men’s Soccer in the Big XII?
I couldn’t tell you. I do know if K-State was to get a soccer team it would be girls not guys because K-State is the only team in the Big XII without a woman’s soccer team. It’s very hard to believe especially considering we have such a nice stadium.

I love Memorial Stadium / The Old Stadium so much. It’s a great place to play and so beautiful.
I was talking to someone who used to work in the Athletic Department at K-State and he was telling me that because of Title 9 it ends up shooting the girls in the foot because for some reason K-State would have to build a new stadium just for the Woman’s soccer team. That’s a whole new plot of land and a whole lot of money and they’d rather put it somewhere else.

Do you think we will ever have Men’s Soccer in the Big XII?
I’m going to say yes just because I want to see it. I hope so. It’s a sport that’s growing. Just recently it’s starting to come around and I think there’s a whole era of kids right now. Our era is getting older and we’ll have money. The era above us grew up on football and baseball so that’s what they make their kids play. We are going to grow up and have our kids play soccer. Hopefully down the road it will come around.

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