Alumni Update: Rodrigo Diaz-Valdes

By Elena Wasserman

Eclipse is now going into its fifth year as a soccer club. As a growing club, there are growing players and coaches, many of whom have moved onto different cities. Eclipse is known for not only creating great teams, but an overall community filled with people who love the sport of soccer. Rodrigo coached and refereed for Eclipse for three years and has been a part of the club ever since year one. Where is he now? What is he up to? We called him up to find out.

Diaz-Valdes_28-e1413943225510Q: When did you first start playing soccer?

A: I have no recollection, but I assume at the age of like four or five.

Q: How did you first hear about Eclipse?

A: Well, Shane and I were always close through high school, and I knew he wanted to start a new club. I was glad to be helpful to get it going. Initially my freshman year and his first year as varsity head coach, he took Kian and I as freshman on the varsity team, which was pretty cool. I think we became especially close my sophomore year when we won NCS because I wasn’t starting at first, and I was talking about where I would be most valuable on the team. I knew the right back was kind of open and I know I never played it in my life, but I thought I was qualified to play the position. He trusted me on that and together we decided how I could make the largest impact on the team as a sophomore.

Q: How was it playing for Shane at Campo?

A: Shane as a head coach was different than any other coach I had. He used his relationship he had with every player to foster the chemistry within the team. We all got along really well and it made playing soccer so much easier.

Q: How was it coaching for Eclipse?

A: Coaching for Eclipse was fun and difficult just because for me at least I had to kind of babysit the very young kids in Future Eclipse. It was fun to see all these kids really enjoying soccer and seeing youth soccer growing in America as a whole. Usually there is an age 11-12 when they grow out of soccer, but for Eclipse it seems different where at the 11-12 mark kids are sticking with it because specifically Eclipse is making it enjoyable enough where kids want to prioritize soccer over other sports.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from Eclipse?

A: Some of my favorite memories were when kids were crying, and I would go to the kids and say what’s hurt and I’d say let me help you out. I would do random stretches, say this is some “Campo magic stuff” and after two minutes they’d be way better. I’m a shaman.

Q: What else have you done other than coach for Eclipse?

A: I reffed a lot of games last summer and summer before.FullSizeRender (1)

Q: What do you think makes Eclipse different than other soccer clubs?

A: How much the coaches care for the players. They care for the players genuinely and they want the improvement and they want to improve the characters and other clubs focus on soccer and not the genuine happiness of their players.

Q: What have you learned from Eclipse that has helped you in your own life?

A: Eclipse has reflected personally in my soccer, to take practices physically serious and mentally enjoy them and enjoy everything I have to put myself through physically.

Q: What are you up to now?

A: Just finished playing two years of soccer at Westmont. I’m transferring to play soccer at UCSC. The UCSC coach tried recruiting me out of high school but I didn’t have the grades, but after working hard for two years at Westmont and not fitting into the school as well as I had hoped I emailed the Santa Cruz coach, and I told him of my academic and player performance and wondered if he was still interested. I went to a camp and he emailed me back making sure I would apply and that he would love to have me on team. I want to say I’ve been pretty lazy this summer working out and playing soccer with myself. Since I’m coming into a new team, my priority is to earn a starting spot.

Q: What has Shane taught you during your time at Eclipse?

A: Shane is mine and a lot of people’s role models. A lot of people don’t know it, but Shane didn’t  play college soccer because he busted his knee. I think it’s hard for players that are really good not to listen to Shane. Shane’s soccer IQ has been unrivaled to any other coaches I’ve had in my life. He just has an insight to the game; his strategizing has always been helpful – not just in the game. Shane would not let Christian come to practice for a full week, so he would do his homework. I think as much as he teases people, he is very caring and selfless.

Elena Wasserman is a former Eclipse player, referee, and coach who is now a freshman journalism major at Cal Poly. She is currently working as a broadcast reporter for Mustang News, the news organization at Cal Poly, and is overjoyed with the opportunity to write for Eclipse.