Sunday, September 21, 2003
Cincinnati St. soccer gives dreams new life
By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer
When Zac Van Frank enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1998, the Clermont Northeastern graduate never abandoned hopes of playing college soccer.
"I didn't quite have my head on straight. I didn't have any plans (after graduation)," said Van Frank, who went from an Illinois boot camp to Italy, France and Portugal.
Soccer and education were foremost on his mind when he returned to Ohio three years later. Van Frank checked out the Cincinnati State men's soccer team on a whim last summer. The rest, he says, is history.
"I've gotten lucky so far. I showed up, tried out and made the team," said Van Frank, 23, now a team captain and second-year Surge goalkeeper.
Cincinnati State long has been a destination for wayward travelers seeking academic boosts or playing time while contributing to a successful athletic program. The two-year Division I junior college has fielded a men's soccer team since 1996 and often sends its finest to four-year college programs.
The Surge, 5-2 and undefeated in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (3-0), can have up to 20 players on their roster. Coach Mike Combs said most players bring unique viewpoints to the table. This season they come from as close as Roger Bacon, as far as Saudi Arabia.
Although a record-high 62 hopefuls tried out for the team this summer, Combs said the program's biggest challenge is rebuilding. About 10 players turn over each year.
"We don't have the benefit of bringing (players) in and developing them like the four-year schools can. Here they have to play right away," Combs said.
Anderson grad and Surge sophomore David Scheller said the program's brevity only motivates the team to perform, and fast. And coming off last year's program-best 11-3-1 record, he believes the possibilities are endless for this team.
"We picked up some good players but still have a lot coming back," said Scheller, a stopper.
Omar Cummings is one player creating a stir. The Jamaican scored two goals and had an assist in a 4-2 defeat of Owens Community College Sept. 13. Derrick Ofori (South Africa), Fadi Hammuri (Saudi Arabia) and Thomas Wakjira (Ethiopia) round out the cast of international players.
Sophomores Eric Koch and Ryan Schneider (Roger Bacon), Adam Grimm (North College Hill) and Dan Combs (Middletown) also anchor the squad, which has surpassed milestones it couldn't last year - such as beating top-ranked Owens twice.
The Surge are aiming for a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament in Tyler, Texas.
But school usually comes first for the players, who squeeze in practices and games at Miami Whitewater Soccer Complex in the Hamilton County Park District. Van Frank is studying to become a marine biologist. Scheller is pursuing a career in education.
"A lot of students are looking for academics and then they realize, 'Shoot, I can still fulfill a dream and play at the college level,' " Combs said.
The Surge host St. Catharine's at 2 p.m. today at Miami Whitewater.
NKU's Kristin Koralewski was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Player of the Week after tallying 83 kills, 45 digs, three double-doubles and a .439 hitting percentage last week.
Tusculum senior forward Rachel Barron (Glen Este) was named the South Atlantic Conference's women's soccer player of the week after breaking the school's 55-goal career scoring record.
Denison junior Matt Schuh (St. Xavier) was named the North Coast Athletic Conference men's soccer player of the week after scoring two goals and assisting on another in the Big Red's 3-1 win over Otterbein last week.
Transylvania's Keith Klump (Batavia) shut down visiting Heidelberg through regulation and two overtime periods Sept. 13, preserving a scoreless tie. The junior goalkeeper was named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's soccer player of the week.
Hanover's Brett Dietz (Covington Catholic) posted 410 yards in offense last Saturday in the Panthers' 33-30 overtime victory at Thomas More to earn HCAC offensive football player of the week.
K.C. Reynolds (Milford) was named the HCAC's women's soccer player of the week after scoring three goals in Hanover's two outings last week.
Xavier freshman golfers Jason Kokrak and John Streibich have been named Co-Rookies of the Week in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Seniors Miles Maillett and Matt Makinson hit their first holes-in-one Friday during a practice round.
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