In April, San Diego Sockers defender Miguel “Chiky” Luna spoke to the Sullivan Middle School soccer team and then stayed to watch the Wildcats’ game. On Nov. 3, Sullivan coach Domingo Anguiano and several of his players watched Luna when the Sockers made their return to what is traditionally called the San Diego Sports Arena.
Luna obtained 15 tickets for the Sullivan players. “It was actually pretty fun watching them make the goals, another goal after another,” said Sullivan eighth-grader David Carbajal, who is a forward on the Sullivan soccer team.
The Sockers opened their 2012-13 season with a 15-2 victory over the Sacramento Surge at what is now the Valley View Casino Center. Luna scored a goal during the second period, into the goal near where the Sullivan students were seated. “He did awesome,” Anguiano said.
“It was great. It was a fun time,” Luna said. “It was a great experience for the kids. It was a great experience for us as a team. It was a great experience for me personally.”
When Luna spoke to the Sullivan students he told them he wanted to provide them with tickets to a Sockers game. “I was happy to be able to stand by my word,” he said.
“It was a very nice gesture for him to be able to provide us and some other players with some tickets,” Anguiano said.
“The Sockers have always done a good job of getting out to the community in one way or another,” Luna said. “We’re really going out there, trying to get out to the kids and the community.”
Luna spoke to an Escondido elementary school the day before the Sockers’ opener. “We’re just trying to get out there as much as we can,” he said.
Luna grew up in Vista and played soccer for Vista High School before graduating in 1997. He played club soccer for both the Vista Storm and the Nomads. During his elementary school years he attended a Sockers game with the Vista Storm. “I still remember. It was a great experience for me as a kid,” Luna said.
The game was against the Dallas Sidekicks when Tatu was the Sidekicks’ star. The Dallas franchise has also been revived and the Sidekicks join the Sockers in the Professional Arena Soccer League for the 2012-13 season. Tatu is the team’s general manager and head coach. (The rivalry will resume Feb. 1, when the Sockers host Dallas.)
“It’s, I think, a great motivator to bring kids out and see top-notch athletes compete,” said Sockers general manager John Kentera.
Kentera is a 1976 graduate of Torrey Pines High School. He played basketball instead of soccer, which became a CIF sport in 1971, but both of his daughters played soccer for Torrey Pines and with the San Dieguito Surf. His older daughter, Brooke, also played for the University of the Pacific. Kentera remembers attending Sockers’ games with his daughters’ teams. “We’d go down there with a lot of our fellow parents and Brooke’s teammates. That’s how we became real soccer fans,” he said.
“We’re kind of following that,” Kentera said. “We want to get kids in there.”
Anguiano noted that watching professional athletes in person gives students a better perspective of what is needed to advance their sports careers. “They saw the rigorous and physical way of the game,” Anguiano said. “They see the tremendous amount of running that they do.”
Anguiano attended Bonsall Union School District schools from kindergarten through eighth grade. He played four years on Fallbrook High School’s varsity soccer team and was with the Fallbrook Fury, Nomads, and Pegasus clubs. Anguiano graduated from Fallbrook High School in 1998 and then played college soccer at Cal State San Bernardino.
Anguiano remembers seeing Sockers games with the Fury and with Pegasus in the 1990s. “It’s just always motivating,” he said.
Neither of the two Fallbrook players on the Sockers’ roster played Nov. 3. Mikel Palmerin has been assigned to the Sockers’ reserve team, although he saw action with the top-level Sockers last season. “When Mikey’s been given an opportunity to play he’s done very well,” Kentera said.
Chris Toth shares goalkeeping duties with Riley Swift. Swift was in the nets against Sacramento. Toth wasn’t even present at the game, as he was loaned to the U.S. Beach Soccer National Team for that weekend. “I think the world of him. I think we have the two best goaltenders in the league,” Kentera said.
“Those guys are good guys. I like both those guys. I like them as people and I like them as players. I think they both have a nice future ahead of them,” Kentera said.
The Sullivan students enjoyed seeing the Sockers play. “It was cool to hear their feedback about the game,” Anguiano said.
Anguiano expects to have additional ticket opportunities during the Sockers’ season. The Sullivan season itself starts with tryouts in February, and Anguiano is also working with Luna and the Sockers to have Luna return as a guest speaker.