While UM sports such as football and basketball get their share of attention in local and national news, another campus sport that is much less publicized is just as competitive in its respective league.
The men’s club soccer team looked much improved after finishing its season last spring. They also play in one of the better conferences in the country, team captain Brian Lubinski said.
“I believe it is one of the most competitive conferences since we obtained the second place in nationals last year, and I heard that UF has won that tournament several times,” he said.
The squad may not be recognized as a varsity sport due to compliance issues with the NCAA’s Title IX legislation, but that’s not to say that the quality of talent isn’t up to par with the rest of Miami sports. Lubinski said that the only real difference between his club sport and a varsity soccer program is the funding; not even the team’s coach is paid.
The players themselves pay a $200 fee to play, but Lubinski believes they have strong talent even despite their lack of recruiting and scholarships.
“Most of the players played high school soccer, while many others are international students and played in their different countries,” Lubinski said.
The players are proud of the high talent level and know they are capable of competing with just about anybody.
“There’s a lot of talent on the team. Our team can beat [the other teams in UM’s conference],” said freshman right back Luis Sarmiento, who played four years of varsity soccer in high school in Colombia.
UM club soccer season runs from the beginning of September until the end of October, not including the possibility of regional and national tournaments that make up the postseason.
There are roughly 25 players on the team, after a large turnout (anywhere from 80 to 150 students) at the annual tryout is thinned out.
Even though the team doesn’t play many home games, they don’t have to travel too far, as most games are against Florida schools such as UF and UCF.
Lubinski is frustrated with the lack of support for the club team.
He said that few people attend home games and the university, while supporting them as much as any other club, could do more to assist one of its men’s sports teams.
“I wish we had more support, principally economically, from the school rather than from an organization such as C.O.S.O. I wish the university would be more serious and committed with our sport and transform our club into a more professional and varsity team,” Lubinski said, pointing to the tryout count to argue that soccer is an important sport for the UM student body.
Regardless, the team still takes its time and budget seriously.
“Obviously it’s a club, but it’s still varsity,” Sarmiento said.
Even with a lack of support, Lubinski maintains that his team has a lot of fun and stays competitive. His vision for the club is “to form a group of people and a setting in which players enjoy, but are also committed, toward the team.”