It is the start of a new school year, and that means the start of a new soccer season. Last year Andres Guerra of the Diocese of Orange led the Mount Angel Guardians as their head coach and captain. Now in his third year of college, he is back to lead the team once again.
There is no experience required; all Guerra asks is that the members be committed to God and the church, and then to the team. "Sports play a vital role in spiritual life,” Guerra stated. He looks for hard working players who have an eagerness to learn and to do well in all that they do. He sees this in a way that many other sports coaches may not: as part of a ministry. Guerra wants to see his players make a shift from the field into their spiritual lives with soccer.
The Guardians have a limit of twenty-two players. This limit has never been reached before; however, this year the team is expecting to reach that limit. More seminarians are coming out to the field to try out and be part of the team. Professors and formation directors are welcome to come out also and be part of the team. Dr. Andrew Cummings has been playing soccer for the Guardians longer than anyone else on the team. Michael Hoolihan is the assistant coach, and Phillip Shiffliet is the team’s manager; both are diocesan brothers to Coach Guerra and fellow player Felipe Villalobos.
|Andres Guerra (red shirt) leads the Guardians through drills and exercises.|
Brotherhood is what being on a team is all about. It’s something bigger than yourself that you can give yourself to. Andres said that is one of the main reasons people become involved in sports. Over time a team can become more like a family. Guerra said that in coaching the players, they also have something that they can give him in return. The team is able to help him see his flaws more clearly. When the team tells him that he is doing something wrong it gives him a chance to step back and think about what he did. Andres said that moments like this show him that being a leader is hard no matter how long you have been doing it. He takes it as a lesson in leadership skills.
|The Guardians gather at the end of practice for a final cheer and prayer.|
The Guardians have yet to play their first game, but practice has started. Practice is from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. According to Guerra, on average a college soccer team practices for two hours five times a week. Because the Guardians do not have much time, they only want those players with the highest level of commitment. Nothing can be said as of yet for their plan on how they will bring a winning season to Mount Angel. Assistant Coach Hoolihan said, “There are lots of new players, so lots of new hopes for a new season.”