Cheerful conversation rises from the young men warming up on the field. The stadium lights shine bright on the grass, and the chirping of crickets comes from the trees bordering the field. The blazing sunset colors have faded from the edges of the giant clouds and lightning flickers intermittently over the distant hills. It is evening practice time for the Walla Walla University men’s soccer team.
The WWU soccer team has grown and is now comprised of 28 athletes from as far away as Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, California, and Texas. Head Coach William Burns remarks that his goal for this team is “to build trust and belief in each other, to always have fun, and to create a family environment with positive communication and consistency toward each of the players.” Burns says he works to keep the team strong with “positive communication off the field, because that translates into a stronger bond and better communication on the field.”
The players have responded positively to this focus on team building. Caleb Cho, a freshman defender from Issaquah, Washington, says, “What I like about Coach Burns is that he focuses on the positive. I’m excited about the opportunity to make new friends!”
“I like it that Coach Burns gives us many chances to play. It is motivating to improve on last year’s loss record, and it was a highlight to win two of our recent Cali tour games,” remarks Bubacarr Manneh, a freshman forward from Everett, Washington.
“The team is a family, and we have each other’s backs,” says sophomore right back Eric Baer from Saratoga, California. “We try to be positive during tough times.”
Carlos Cantu, sophomore midfielder from Hidalgo, Texas, says, “Coach Burns helped me realize that hard work can take you anywhere and that consistency matters.”
“Being part of this program enabled me to come to college. A season highlight has been watching our team score goals,” remarks Damien Dennis, junior center back and team captain from Boise, Idaho.
“I appreciate that Coach Burns leads by positive example,” states Emmett Semple, a junior forward and team captain from Corvallis, Montana. “This team is my family away from home. We are brothers.”
As Coach Burns begins his fourth year with the team, he says he is looking forward to growing as a team, winning games, and turning corners as the Wolves become a passionate, competitive team.
To find out more about WWU Wolves soccer, view team rosters, or check out upcoming game schedules, visit uwolves.com.
Posted Sept. 16, 2019