SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 24, 2000 -- Soccer at New Mexico Tech is alive and kicking!
A nationwide resurgence of interest and participation in amateur soccer leagues has also created a niche for the popular sport on the New Mexico Tech campus, as the recent formation of at least three soccer teams at the university vividly attests.
In fact, the two men's teams and one women's team from New Mexico Tech recently competed in the first ever Mark Underwood Memorial Tournament--which took place at several soccer fields throughout Socorro--and all three Tech teams won trophies.
The Tech women's team placed second in the "C" division, while the men's teams placed third in both the "C" and "D" divisions of the 23-team-field tournament, which was sanctioned by the New Mexico State Soccer Association.
Paul A. Fuierer, associate professor of materials and metallurgical engineering at New Mexico Tech, is one of the catalysts behind the current Tech "soccer revival," having organized the initial formation of Tech's soccer teams. Fuierer now coaches the Tech men's soccer teams.
Nouraddine Benalil, a colleague of Fuierer's who works as a computer support specialist at Tech's Petroleum Recovery and Research Center (PRRC), has taken over the coaching duties of the Tech women's soccer team.
"We're hoping to compete in other adult soccer tournaments later this spring," Fuierer says, "and perhaps even get our teams involved in a regular season schedule with the Albuquerque Soccer League."
Since the teams have begun practicing on a regular basis on the Tech Athletic Field, more and more Tech students have begun to ask Fuierer how they can join up.
"Our participation in the recent soccer tournament has generated even more excitement," Fuierer notes, "and we're all hoping this new program turns into a very consistent and long-lasting soccer tradition here at New Mexico Tech."
Fuierer concedes that his aspirations of building a soccer program with more continuity at the university are not limited just to the playing fields.
"My personal hope is that in establishing a strong soccer program here at Tech, we can also use it as a means to recruit and retain more students," he says.
"Youth soccer has become well organized and established here in New Mexico and throughout the rest of the United States," Fuierer points out.
"Just about everywhere, high schools, and even some middle schools, now have both boys and girls' soccer teams as part of their school athletic programs. . . . And now, students who come to New Mexico Tech will be able to continue to play competitive soccer if they'd like to," Fuierer adds.
Fuierer extends his thanks on behalf of Tech's fledgling soccer teams to the New Mexico Tech physical recreation program for helping start the program, local AYSO members for helping set up and paint the fields used in the recent soccer tournament, and the Tech administration for having purchased new uniforms for all the team members.
"We look pretty good playing out there in our new uniforms," Fuierer says, "and that always helps."