Colorado Mountain College soccer team, coach looking at a bright future
SPRING VALLEY, Colorado – Steve White’s just happy to be alive.Fielding what he believes will be Colorado Mountain College’s strongest soccer team in school history is merely a bonus.White suffered a heart attack four weeks ago, one that necessitated an airlift to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and quadruple bypass surgery.But it hasn’t halted the CMC head men’s soccer coach’s involvement with the team. It’s just limited to spectating and behind-the-scenes, administrative work.”It’s going to be hard. It’s already hard,” said White, who’s entering his fourth year as CMC’s head coach after a lengthy tenure as Glenwood Springs High School’s coach. “I have to consciously limit my time with ’em. I want to be there, but I can’t. My cardiac care therapist tells me in the long run I’ll be better off.”Days of late have included rehabilitation, walks and plenty of rest. The energy just isn’t there for much more. “It gives me a chance to push a lot of paper,” White joked about his newfound free time, “and to watch a lot of videos.”Stepping in White’s place to direct the Eagles through the on-the-field stuff are head assistant John Inglehart and assistants Craig Plizga and Carson Gazley – a crew the veteran coach is more than comfortable handing over the reins to.And they may have inherited the best team in CMC’s four-year history as a sanctioned junior college program, a history that hasn’t included much in the way of wins.”This is the top group we’ve had,” White said. “This is our fourth varsity season and it’s definitely the top talent pool.”The fourth year is about when White expected to see the talent level peak. It takes time to build a program and, as his recruiting contact base has expanded, so has the talent pool. For the first time, White and the Eagles have actually had to turn players away.”We’ve even been able to pass on players,” he said. “Before we’d take anyone we’d get into a conversation with.”Top returners on a roster that’s pushing 30 players – the best numbers CMC soccer’s ever seen – include goalkeeper Lowell Rompf, midfielder Zach Northern, midfielder Brian Fernholz and defender Tyler Corbin.They’ll mesh with a talented group of incoming freshmen that includes forward Peter Freeman, midfielder Shaun Troia, midfielder Travis Higginbotham, defender Brett Warren and forward Salvador Cruz. Also new to the team is Panama native Keyvin Van Horn, a midfielder who prepped in Georgia and has flashed potential in practice.”We’ll be more competitive than we have in the past,” White predicted. “We’re looking for a better win-loss record. We think we’ll have the closer margin.”White seems to have accepted the notion of watching his team’s progress from afar, for at least the first half of the season. He hopes to increase his involvement with the program as his health improves. Until then, he’s more than happy to spend the extra time with his grandkids.”I feel very blessed to have a second chance, to be able to continue to do the things I love to do,” White said. “I can be with my family, my grandkids. I honestly feel better now than I did six months before it happened.”A heart attack may have slowed the veteran coach down, but that’s far better than the alternative.”I’m moving slow,” White conceded, “but at least I’m moving above ground.”
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