sportsMarch 27, 2024
Isaiah Collins ~ Sports Editor
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For high school athletes all over the country the dream of collegiate athletics is thought to be the result of your hard work, but for a group of soccer players on SEMO’s campus that is not quite the case.

For SEMO club soccer player Steen Vaca Diez this was the same case, as he begun his time in college.

“I went to camps. I sent my highlight reel to a bunch of other colleges, and I didn't find any that I liked. I think I had a couple offers from Northern Illinois and one [school] in Minnesota,” Vaca Diez said. “But I never had anything that I was like, ‘Okay, I like where this is and I like what they have at the school’. So in the end, I just decided, well, I'm just gonna go local somewhere and keep my soccer skills up to the point.”

Club President Mason Grindstaff shared a similar story, as he himself was committed to play at the collegiate level for Hannibal-LaGrange University, before a life intervened and forced his path in a different direction.

“I was going to go play at Hannibal LaGrange, like college soccer there, and a few things changed there and ended up coming to SEMO,” Grindstaff said.

SEMO club soccer is an on campus organization, composed of a group of young men who look to continue to display their love for the game of soccer. The team is a step up from just regular university intramurals, according to Vaca Diez.

“Intramurals are good, but Club is a step up. It's an actual organization we go and play other clubs from, SIUE, also like Missouri State and Mizzou and some other clubs along those lines,” Vaca Diez said. “But the way we conduct ourselves at SEMO is, instead of just showing up to the games, we'll have a schedule that we'll try and adhere to. And we have practice two times a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Vaca Diez added that there are several players on the team, who if given the opportunity could play at a collegiate level or division 1 level at a school like SEMO, if there was a team to play for. Vaca Diez even said he knows of this happening at schools such as SIU-Edwardsville and Missouri State from talking to opponents.

“If SEMO did have a men's soccer club, I would say that we do have some guys on our team right now who are talented enough, but SEMO doesn't have that opportunity,” Vaca Diez said. “I do know that some people at like SIU-Edwardsville and Missouri State, if they're very, very good and they stand out, do get the opportunity to walk on to their soccer teams.”

Grindstaff said that in conversations he’s had with people associated from SEMO a men’s soccer team doesn’t exist due to Title IX regulations. However Grindstaff believes that because of nearby local talent it could have potential to be great.

“I think it would be a great idea for us to do it personally because I think there's a lot of homegrown talent around here. Through close schools like, Jackson Cape, Notre Dame, Poplar Bluff, things like that. I think they’d do really well to make a team,” Grindstaff said.