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Soccer coach proud of team’s development

As a coach, it’s always key to remember that the players are the heart of any team.
Dean Roberts is the coach of the U12 Ennis I.O.O.F. Hornets in the Best Southwest League that won their recent Ellis County Super Bowl matchup with the Waxahachie Tigers by a 2-0 margin. He moved to E-town from Denver in 2001 and began his coaching career. His son and Hornet player, Eric, just wrapped up his tenth season (fifth year) with the coach.
Fellow Hornets Antonio Perez and Christian Gonzales have been with Coach Roberts for eight seasons, while Chris Cazares joined the team a season later as the Ennis Soccer Association joined the Best Southwest League. These are the veteran players that have been team leaders for the Hornets in recent seasons.
When Jeb Harper came aboard, he took over the goalie position. The coach said Harper’s combination of knowledge, size and leadership allowed him to lead the team to victory on numerous occasions. Franco Moncade, who scored the winning goal in the Ellis County Super Bowl last year, was tabbed a clutch player by the coach for stepping up when the team needed him.
Eric Patlan was the team’s backup goalie, but he could play anywhere on the field. Coach Roberts called Israel Padilla and Frankie Mendoza “tough spark plugs” for the Hornets. Scott Muirhead, young in age but experienced with six seasons under Roberts, moved out of the goal to become an all-purpose player that could fill any team need.
Kristopher Young has been the field general for the Hornets because he always makes sure his teammates don’t stray out of position. Roberts said Young always loved the challenge of marking the best player on the opposing team. The coach called Nicholas Prachyl and Nathan Castle “steal specialists,” adding that the pair was able to be leaders in their own way on and off the field.
Diego Silva practiced with the Hornets for years before finally joining the team and Roberts calls him the most improved player. Neeko Gutierrez and Erick Rodriguez joined the Hornets after their old teams disbanded. Gutierrez received defensive player of the year honors from his coach and Rodriguez scored one of the Hornets’ goals in the Ellis Country Super Bowl.
Brandon Collum and Victor Gutierrez had never played prior to this season, but they stepped up to do their part whenever called upon. Collum accepted the challenge of stopping aggressive forwards in their tracks while Gutierrez was the team’s vocal leader as well as the “stat man,” because he always knew the score and much more from any previous game.
The team actually skipped three divisions in the Best Southwest league, so it played in the U12 division with a roster of five nine-year-olds, 10 ten-year-olds and three eleven-year-olds. When the season began, 80 percent of the players were nine years old and Roberts said outsiders didn’t expect the Hornets to win any games at all.
Regardless of what others thought, the Hornets took third place out of six teams in their district, finishing behind the Red Oak Tsunami and Cedar Hill Barcelona. More than finishing at the top, Roberts cared about his players trying to improve by playing tough competition.
Last spring, the Hornets finished second in district in the U10 division. In the fall of ’05, they finished third.
“We practiced in front of the [I.O.O.F.] nursing home and the residents loved to come out and watch on warm days,” Roberts said.
“After practice, the kids could visit with their fans, so it was a good situation. We have the best parents in the league because they were always there to support their kids.
“Parents helped with everything from moving goals around town to making snacks, giving rides and making sure homework is done before practice. I feel I probably learned more from my players about having fun than they learned from me about playing soccer.”

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Posted by on Nov 30 2006. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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