Soccer programs prepares athletes for the pros

Ilian Cervantes

Former Sacramento State soccer athlete Max Alvarez completed his first season for Sacramento Republic professional soccer team this month, where he played midfielder.

Alvarez reported to Sac Republic training camp last February and said he felt prepared for the skill level of the professional team coming out of the Sac State program.

“Sac State has done a good job as far as preparing me to play for the next level,” Alvarez said. “I have taken a lot of the techniques Sac State has taught me to the next level.”

The Napa native entered the Sac State soccer program as a freshman, where he earned all-league honors his junior year (2011) after starting in 16 games and appearing in a total of 18. Alvarez said practice during the spring and fall semester helped him stay in shape.

Coming from high school, where he was a striker, to the Sac State program where he gradually became an outside midfielder allowing him to hone his defensive skills.

“That required a lot more defensive work, learning how to cut passes and funnel the ball in certain ways,” Alvarez said. “There are two things you can do; you can run a lot and chase the ball down or you can be more conservative and guide the ball a certain way so that your teammates can help you out.”

Senior student-athlete Chimdum Mez said he played with Alvarez for three years and also has aspirations to further his soccer career after college.

“We try to provide an environment where they can continue to grow and develop,” said head coach Michael Linenberger. “We model our training environment as closely to what we feel a professional environment will be.”

The Sac State soccer program not only focuses on training on the field, but also educating the athletes in nutrition, sport psychology and staying focused in school, Mez said.

“In the spring, they brought a nutritionist that taught us everything that we need to know [about eating healthy] to be at our best,” Mez said.

Linenberger said he and his staff have watched Sac Republic practice a few times this year and has a good relationship with Predag “preki” Radosavljević, Sac Republic’s coach, who attended five of Sac State’s games last fall.

Having a positive relationship with other coaches and keeping up with soccer training trends are ways the soccer program enriches the student-athlete experience while preparing them for the professional level.

“We try to keep our pulse on the latest trends in the game at the highest levels,” Linenberger said.

Senior midfielder Andres Garcia said it has always been his dream to play soccer professionally and the program at Sac State has taught him to prepare for games and training both physically and mentally, as well as off the field.

“I feel like the coaches do a good job teaching us how to be punctual, organized and disciplined and to be a professional you always have to be punctual,” Garcia said. “You need to show up to practice and meetings prepared, your body also has to be prepared for training.”

Alvarez’s advice to athletes preparing for a soccer career is to use their time wisely and work on techniques with both feet to capitalize on opportunities on the field.