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Kickin’ it with the big boys

John Gardner
Rifle Citizen Telegram
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
John Gardner / Citizen Telegram
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RIFLE, Colorado – Frank Rivas has played the sport of soccer for as long as he can remember. He grew up playing the game, and he knows it well.

“Ever since I was a little kid,” he said.

At the age of 17, soccer is as much a part of his life as school. Rivas plays center defender for the Rifle Bears varsity soccer team as well. And it’s his love of the game, his knowledge of the sport and a senior seminar project that drew him to coaching.



“I thought it was a good opportunity to teach the kids the skills I’ve learned over the years,” Rivas said.

Rivas and several other Rifle High soccer players coach teams from Rifle Recreation’s youth soccer program.



“I’ve been teaching them everything I know about how to play the game,” Rivas said. “They get it quick, too.”

Saul Cerros, a teammate of Rivas, also coaches in the youth soccer league. The two coach the pee wee league, which consists of first- and second-graders. According to the 16-year-old Cerros, who has played the sport since he was 7 years old, this is an opportunity for him to pass on his love of the sport so that when the time comes for these youngsters to play at Rifle High, they’ll be ready.

“I want them to be really good, so when they get to high school they are prepared to play as a team and can play well on a team,” Cerros said.

While coaching may seem like extra work for some, Cerros and Rivas said that they don’t see it that way.

“I see it as fun,” Cerros said. “I see it as two things at once: I get my time for my senior project, and I get to do what I like.”

Which is playing soccer.

“They are the future of Rifle soccer,” Rivas said. “I see some real good talent out there.”

According to Rifle High boys soccer head coach Richard Carter, along with several of his varsity boys who coach in the league, several lady Bears soccer players also coach in the youth program. Jocelyn Bracamontes is among them.

While the students each coach as part of their senior seminar – a project requiring seniors to complete 20 hours of community service – this is more than a school project, according to Bracamontes.

“It makes me feel good,” she said. “It’s a great experience to have with the kids, not only for them but for me.”

Students also are required to write a 10-page paper on the topic of their project. Bracamontes is focusing her paper on the history of the sport and how playing soccer can contribute to the development of kids in athletics.

“Soccer is my passion,” she said.

Coach Carter, who is not new to volunteering, thinks that this is an ideal way for the kids to get involved in their communities, and it helps out Rifle Recreation.

“It’s really neat to see these kids give back to the community,” Carter said. “It’s just a great program to promote the sport to the younger kids in the community.”

While the experience has been challenging for Rivas, it’s been more fun than he first imagined it would be. He said that he’s looking forward to coaching in the future as well. He wants to move up and coach the under-12 division teams. For now, he enjoys teaching the younger kids.

“I’m having fun. The kids give it their all and I give it my all,” Rivas said. “They play hard, and they don’t like to lose at all.”


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