By ALAN HOSKINS
Ruben Rodriguez has kept the word community very prominent in recruiting Kansas City Kansas Community College’s first women’s soccer team.
Of the 18 members of the first Lady Blue Devil team, 17 are from Kansas and all within 25 miles of the KCKCC campus including 12 from KCK, two each from Lansing and Shawnee and one from Lawrence. All are freshmen.
“It’s a hard working group, very enthusiastic and excited about the season,” said Rodriguez, who got a late, late start in recruiting because the sport was not officially adopted until this past February. In his second year as head men’s coach, Rodriguez also was a men’s assistant three seasons.
“I was very fortunate that I knew the coach at J.C. Harmon, Carlos Olivas,” said Rodriguez. “They had a very good season, one loss in the regular season and one in the playoffs.”
After his first Harmon signee, the word spread and six more members signed on to play along with standouts from Piper, Bishop Ward, F.L. Schlagle and Wyandotte.
Rodriguez is being assisted in the women’s program by Tait Einerson, who has 17 years of coaching experience, six as an assistant at Liberty High School and the last 11 at Blue Valley West.
An assistant on both the boys and girls teams at Blue Valley West, he coached only the girls team for the last four years.
Yet to play a game, Rodriguez said playing time is wide open although three players have been selected as captains – forward Stephanie Long of Piper, midfielder Nancy Martinez of SM North and defender/midfielder Mayra Castaneda of J.C. Harmon.
“They’re very strong players with good leadership qualities and the desire to play at four-year colleges,” said Rodriguez.
Claudia Riveria, who had an outstanding season at Harmon, will start in goal for the Blue Devils while other Harmon products include defenders Danielle Alvarado, Karen Gaytan and Vanessa Walters, midfielder Blanc Bueno and forward Alyssa Trammel.