As part of a new weekly featurette series, PacificTigers.com will explore the unique, inspirational, groundbreaking or just plain interesting accomplishments of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members off the playing surface.
by Matthew Monges
Stockton, Calif. - Giving back to our humble beginnings is something many of us strive to do. For the Pacific Men's soccer team, that is exactly what they are doing. Every Monday of every week, the men's team works with TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer), a community-based training and team placement program that specifically works with young athletes with disabilities.
Last year, with the start of the Pacific's men's soccer's inaugural season, the local Stockton Youth Soccer Association contacted Pacific to see if our team had interest in helping out with the program in a volunteer capacity. Pacific Assistant Coach Matt Gow stated that working with TOPS is a "no brainer" and that although they have only been together for two years, "We plan to do it every single year as they keep going."
Today, TOPS is very popular among players and coaches alike. On average, around four to eight Pacific players will work with around thirty to forty five children. During their time together, they play and scrimmage without keeping score to keep the game pure. To Coach Gow, TOPS is an incredible opportunity for the men's team. Gow noted that for him personally, it brings the game back to its roots of playing for the sake of enjoyment.
At the same time, the TOPS program is extremely rewarding for the players themselves as well. Participating in TOPS gives the players a chance to become role models for young aspiring soccer hopefuls.
As Coach Gow described, "volunteering is one of the most fundamental building blocks that an athlete should be a part of because at one stage or another some athlete started with a volunteer coach and if it wasn't for that volunteer that athlete would have never had a spark of interest in whatever sport that was."
TOPS serves as the perfect opportunity for the Pacific players to reverse roles and give back to the soccer world, which has brought them to where they are now. Likewise, it also allows the players to step back and view the game of soccer from a less stressful perspective and find enjoyment in the simplicity of the game itself.
However, there is little time for the Pacific Men's team to relax. When they are not volunteering, the men's team is rigorously preparing for their ever approaching conference games. This weekend the team will take on rival Saint Mary's in Moraga this weekend before two tough competitors in back to back road games against San Francisco and then against Santa Clara. Work hard, play hard Tyges! Thank you for giving back!