Jacksonville Daily Progress
The respective rosters for Jacksonville College's two newest sports, men's and women's soccer, are beginning to take shape as head coach Rafael Gonzalez continues his efforts in assembling squads that can be competitive from the get go — JC will field soccer teams for the first time in school history beginning this fall.
On Friday JC staged open try outs at its soccer field, located southwest of Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse.
Gonzalez said open try outs are important to constructing a quality roster.
“Open tryouts gives kids that I may have overlooked, or may not have had the opportunity to see in high school, a chance to come out and to possibly earn a spot on one of the rosters,” Gonzalez said. “In addition, I may have seen a player in the past that had a bad day when I saw them and they want another chance to come out and show what they can do, and open tryouts enables them to do that.”
Gonzalez, who previously was in charge of the men's and women's soccer programs at Lon Morris College, said that he expects to pick up some transfers of former LMC players to go along with promising high school seniors that will graduate in May.
“A lot of my players will be kids that I've had previously that will transfer in,” Gonzalez said. “I'm here to win, not just fill out rosters and I want to get players that can play at a high level so that we can be competitive with the team's in our conference (NJCAA, Region XIV).”
Gonzalez said that he has had more luck in signing men than women at this point, but that that is not unusual.
“If two guys come to a try out, they usually will bring four or five of their buddies, and I like that, and we usually end up signing more than just the one or two that came to tryout,” he said. “It's a lot different with the women. If 10 women say they will come and try out, usually only two or three will actually make it out; that's just the way it is.”
One women's player that Gonzalez has already locked up the services of for the Lady Jaguar team is Lucy Ayala of Palestine High School.
Ayala, a midfielder, was last year's District 35-4A Most Valuable Player (unanimous choice).
Gonzalez said overall interest in the new programs have been good and that he expects the majority of the players to come from East Texas, Dallas and Houston.
Gonzalez said that he plans to continue to work closely with high school soccer coaches at Jacksonville, Palestine, Whitehouse, Tyler Lee and John Tyler, just to name a few, to hopefully establish pipelines for some of the more talented players to be able to continue with soccer at the college level as members of the Jag and Lady Jag teams.