Renegades soccer team kicks off new season with new goals

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The Renegades co-ed soccer team has gained popularity among students this semester, said Mike Sempak, president of the Renegades and a senior television major.

In prior seasons, the Columbia Renegades soccer team struggled with low participation, but the last two seasons have attracted more players to the team. 

According to Mike Sempek, Renegades president and senior television major, soccer is gaining popularity at Columbia.

“About two years ago—before I was on the board—I was captain of the baseball team and soccer was not very strong at the time,” Sempek said. “There was not the best leadership.” 

Sempek said success has bred more interest and now the team is very cohesive. 

“With last year’s board, the soccer team started really improving,” Sempek said. “It couldn’t be a tighter group, and now there is so much interest. It is co-ed, which helps things, too.”

According to Will Montes, co-captain of the soccer team and a senior creative writing major, the team has between 24–26 players, including eight or nine women. 

On the soccer field, there are 11 players at a time, and because the team is in a co-ed league, there is a minimum number of women needed on the field.

“We play four [women] at a time, and we have to have four…as a minimum on the field at all times,” Montes said.

Montes said the team is optimistic that it could have a successful season and that the team’s ultimate goal for the season is to win the league. 

 “[The team] plays in an adult league at the Chicago Fire rec league and we want to win,” Montes said. “We want to be as competitive as possible.”

This season the team is off to a slow start with a record of 1-2, but there is still time to catch up, Montes said. There are six games in the regular season and two playoff games. Each team is guaranteed to play eight games. Currently, the Renegades have two regular season games to go. 

Montes said the team struggles with communication on the field.

“Our biggest opponent has probably been ourselves managing to [substitute players],” Montes said. “We have so many people, and at times, if we don’t manage them right, games can fall apart.”

Nic Ten Grotenhuis, co-captain of the soccer team and a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major, said the team is still learning how to adjust to each player’s capabilities.

“A couple of challenges have been getting used to new players and becoming acquainted with how new people play,” Ten Grotenhuis said. 

Even with those challenges, Ten Grotenhuis’ overall goal is for the team each game to have fun while playing.

“Our goal is to have a good time with everybody and get to know new people,” Ten Grotenhuis said. “As far as the team goes, [the goal] is to win as many games as we can.”