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The 2016-2017 men’s soccer club poses for a team picture after it’s first open tryout on September 13, 2016. (Courtesy of Fresno State Football Club (FSFC) Student Club Team).

Men’s soccer club ready for season

The Fresno State men’s club soccer team is ready to get the ball rolling this upcoming season after solidifying itself in the standings last year. The club went 7-1-2 in the 2015-16 season after previously suffering consecutive losing seasons.   

The club team is coached by Darren Holden, who is entering his second season with the team after being invited to coach the program in April of 2015. Holden has coached for 30 years and is also coaching the Cen Cal Cosmos Soccer Club, an under-16 boys team in Clovis.

“The best part about coaching the team is that these young men can still play a few more years… at the top levels, and they are getting better… that’s fun,” Holden said.

In 2004, the men’s varsity soccer team was eliminated due to Title IX a federal civil rights law which mandates equity in men’s and women’s athletics at institutions receiving federal funding. Since then, Fresno State students were forced to play for the club team if they had any aspirations of playing soccer for the school.

“We are playing the top club soccer programs in Northern California including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Stanford,” Holden said. “Our goal is to get Fresno State an NCAA Division 1 soccer program here.”

The club has reason to believe with seniors Spencer Michaelson and Max Hill. Michaelson is entering his third season with the team and is the club president/captain, as well. As for Hill, he is entering his fourth year with the team. The two are friends on and off the pitch. They both played high school soccer and were eager to continue with their talents in college.

“As team captain and president, I must be the leader on and off the field,” Michaelson said. “When we are playing, I have to lead my team and help direct everyone in a manner that helps us succeed.”

Anyone with passion for the sport is urged to try out for the team and is welcomed with open arms. The club offers more than just the game, he said.

“I think everyone who loves playing soccer should try out because of the competitiveness, the friendships and the team-first attitude that makes the future of this program so promising,” Hill said. “My love for the sport made me want to try out, and I’ve never looked back.”

The club is offering another tryout in January for the spring league. In order to qualify, players must be registered students at Fresno State and in good standing with grades. The players must be able to attend at least one of the two weeknight practices (Tuesday or Thursday) as well as weekend games or fitness trainings. There is also a fee to cover registration and uniforms.

Practices and home games are at the Kinesiology Field, which is behind the tennis courts off along Cedar Avenue. For more information, contact the club team on Facebook at www.fresnostateclubsoccer.com.

  • Dan Waterhouse

    The demise of men’s soccer in 2004 was less about Title IX and much more about athletic department finances at the time. Men’s soccer attendance was struggling at the time as there was much more interest in Fresno Pacific U’s program by the local Latino community which had supported Fresno State’s program for years. The Bulldogs were regarded as too “white bread” compared to FPU’s team which was predominantly Latino.

    The AD told the community that, if it raised the money to fund it, the program would be reinstated. Substantial monies were raised but the target set by the AD was unrealistic given the short length of time boosters were given to fundraise-they had to raise enough money to fund it for several years.

    It should be noted that wrestling was dropped also for non Title IX reasons. Insiders tell me there were longstanding behavioral and academic issues with the team that weren’t being addressed so the athletic director axed it. Its return has been complicated by gender balance issues (related to Title IX and the CalNOW settlement)-Fresno State’s participation rate isn’t in balance with student body percentages.