CMC players hail from distant shores
Steve White is bringing the tropics to the Roaring Fork Valley. No, that doesn’t mean you can bury your snow shovels in the back of the storage shed. White, the coach of the Colorado Mountain College Eagles, has some tropical imports from Hawaii this year.There are no less than five of them: Matt Heid, John Powley and Justin Tanju are from Maui, while Jake Fassett and Cole Morifuji are from the Big Island. They reflect a growing interest in the CMC soccer program from students around the country.”This college and its facilities are so attractive that we’re getting interested students from coast to coast,” said White. And, obviously, from beyond. The Hawaiian connection began in January when White visited his son on the islands and was immediately surprised by soccer’s popularity there. He attended a couple of high school games and, while neither yielded immediate recruitment opportunities, he did see a familiar face while he was there.”I ended up running into an athletic trainer from Western State, and he started passing the word around,” said White. “We also had a student who attended (CMC) last year from the same high school as Fassett and Morifuji. He went home and told everyone what a great place this is.”
The facilities are certainly part of that greatness. Gates Soccer Park, completed in 1996, consists of five collegiate-size soccer fields, each with a stunning panoramic view of Mount Sopris. The park is becoming more and more renowned as a premier site for soccer tournaments. The Hawaiians all agree that it’s beautiful, but right now they’d prefer the views without the altitude. At 6,800 feet, the air’s a bit thinner than in their homeland.”It’s been hard,” said Fassett. “The first day we were all out of breath.”After 10 days of practice, they’re still getting accustomed to the altitude.
The style of play will also take a period of adjustment. Soccer is a sport known for its regional variations in style and philosophy. In Hawaii, they focus on ball control and possession, and according to Morifuji they’ve had to speed up their game a little.”Soccer is more physical and a little quicker here than in Hawaii,” Morifuji said. “It’s going to take a while to get used to it.”The Hawaiians have had to adjust not only to a more aggressive style of play, but to different passing philosophies such as the one-touch pass and utilizing different passing lanes.Both Luis Chavez, an Eagles’ captain last season, and teammate Derek Weller appreciate their effort and adaptability.
“It’s nice that they bring a mix, a different style to the team,” said Chavez.”It helps the team because it keeps us on our toes,” added Weller.Whether or not players keep hopping the Pacific to join the CMC team, it’s obvious that players from around the nation are taking notice of the CMC Eagles. White said he recently talked to players from Michigan and Alaska.White said the Hawaiian players are not on scholarship at the school.For this season, if you head up the hill to see a game, be sure to bring a couple of leis to the tailgate. That will make this year’s imports feel right at home.For this season, if you head up the hill to see a game, be sure to bring a couple of leis to the tailgate. That will make this year’s imports feel right at home.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.