Class of 2019
Varsity Team Captain
When I first began my high school soccer career on the freshman team at Wayne Valley, I thought that being a part of the soccer program meant that I would simply be shaped into a better soccer player, but I was wrong. After my sophomore season, I was pulled up to the varsity team, but it was not just based upon my soccer abilities. Sam Roca saw past me as a player and identified my potential both as a person and teammate.
Throughout my last two seasons, Coach Roca taught me what hard work was, and made me realize that practice was an opportunity, not an obligation. During practices, Roca made it clear that he needed to see 100% effort from anyone who wanted to play during the games.
High school soccer is extremely competitive, so playing time wasn’t handed to anyone – it was earned. When I was a team captain my senior year, I was able to see who really wanted to play, and it was easy to identify those who were just going through the motions.
It was up to coach Roca to see this as well and distribute playing time where he felt it was deserved most. At the level of competition that we were at, there was no room for participation trophies.
Obviously, Coach Roca cared about winning. However, teaching us how to become better men was the biggest part of this process. Throughout my years at Valley, I had seen Roca show care for players on and off the field. He would check up on how our classes were going, talk about personal issues, and extensively check on injured players. These are all things that he would do outside of his duties as coach because that’s just the type of person he is.
I would not be where I am today without Coach Roca, both figuratively and literally. During my college application process, Roca took the time out of his own life to write a letter of recommendation for me, and I would not be where I am without his help. Coach Roca’s guidance and care has impacted everyone in a positive manner, whether they have realized it yet or not.