All-Navy soccer team looking to fill roster

All-Navy soccer head coach Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Nate Gavin talks to a handful of Sailors about applying for the All-Navy soccer team.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Our armed forces are filled with talented people who bring a variety of talents and skills to their jobs.

If soccer happens to be your cup of tea, then there just might be a spot reserved for you on the 2018 All-Navy soccer team.

On June 7, All-Navy soccer head coach Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Nate Gavin made a guest appearance at Earhart Field to talk to a handful of prospects about applying for a chance to be one of 30 selectees to join a one-month camp that will be held sometime in April at a base to be decided.

“We usually stop by the major bases,” Gavin said. “San Diego, Norfolk, Jacksonville. We’ll take applications and the ones we can’t see, we ask them to send in videos, so that way, we can get a chance for us to look at them without just seeing what’s on paper.”

In most years, Gavin said that he’ll receive around 70-80 applications, but from there only 30 will be deemed talented enough to be sent an invitation to the camp.

Chief Electrician’s Mate Luis Zamora, who was a member of the All-Navy team in 2002-03 and 2008-10, said that the opportunity to play and compete against the best players in the armed forces is a once in a lifetime chance that he’ll never forget.

“I made the team the second year that I was in the Navy,” Zamora said. “That’s been a driving factor for me to continue on every year in soccer. It gets you away from the stress on being on duty and you get to play soccer for 30 days. That’s a unique experience.”

Zamora said that if you have a passion for soccer and want to play with the best, be prepared because the condensed training camp is intense.

From the 30 invited players, the team will be further refined and trimmed down to only 21 Sailors.

Cuts start almost immediately with players being let go at a rate of three every three days until the final 21 is reached.

However, if you are among the fortunate few who get picked, Zamora said that feeling of accomplishment is like nothing you’ve experienced before.

“It is a little bit stressful because during that time you have two to three training sessions per day,” Zamora said. “You have to make sure you’re fit and your level of play is consistent. Once everything is done, you create a new family. You’ve got players all over the world that you keep in touch with. It’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment.”

Besides being fit and playing at a high level, Gavin said it all comes to nothing if a player doesn’t have the right attitude and character.

All applicants must get the approval of their commanding officer, so Gavin said that character isn’t usually a problem, but there have been a few occasions where attitude was the deciding factor.

“Obviously, we look for players who have college playing experience,” said Gavin, who was an All-Navy player for seven years, before becoming the head coach. “And then, we always want to get character guys. We’ve cut guys that have been more talented. If you have a guy who thinks he is a super-star and puts himself above the team, that’s not going to work out.”

Zamora said that the last time Navy made it to the championship round was back in 2003, so he hopes enough skilled players fill out an application to change that.

If anyone is interested, you may sign up through the web-site, www.navyfitness.org/all-navy-sports/all-navy-teams/ mens-soccer.

Also keep up with All-Navy soccer through Facebook at www.facebook.com/AllNavy-MensSoccerTeam.

Zamora also added that he can be contacted for more information at Luis.Zamoralazzo@navy.mil.

“We just want to spread the word,” he said. “There’s a lot of players out there who have the talent, but have no idea about these programs.”

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Category: Sports