EVANSTON — “This was a growing and learning experience for me and I cannot thank you all enough,” first-year Red Devil head soccer coach Brian Richins told the crowd at the end of season awards social on May 24.
“To the players — your effort was incredible,” Richins said. “You grew, you tried, you worked hard and I will forever appreciate the effort of our seniors, Nick Kunz, Carlos Tapia, Brock Rigby and Jess Richins, for their willingness to buy into the team.”
Richins explained that for the 2018 seniors, he was their third head coach and he praised his leaders for “the support they showed their teammates and the way they spent their energy on the field.”
Richins followed up with comments for his players, as individuals and groups. Some were shorter, some were longer and some included side bar stories, but all seemed genuinely heartfelt, as Richins was often overcome with emotion. His words of praise for his athletes follow.
Latham Chandler and Carter Garfias: “I admire and appreciate your growth. From question marks at the beginning of the season to mainstays at the end.”
Alex Arcadia, Noah Anderson, Noah VanVleet, and Kayden Welling: “I appreciate that they would meet me at my truck right away without being asked and get things set up and get things put away. They were awesome.”
Jake Paucarpura: “Leaves us as a freshman and works out all off-season. Comes back 30-pounds lighter, a better athlete and a better soccer player. Just an incredible effort in the off-season and it paid off.”
Ulises Saenz and Nick Child: “Came in as freshmen and just dove right in. They play with their heart on their sleeve and just leave everything out there.”
Rylan Worley was praised for his patience and versatility to be utilized on the field and as a keeper. “He just comes every day and works hard, and eventually we were able to use him at both. Just a great, great future ahead.”
Jafet Godina: “What surprising speed and athleticism. I had no idea.”
Ben Dodsworth: “His touch on the long ball is one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen. He hits the ball so well and is so accurate.”
Garet Sharp: “Great attitude, hard worker and as far as I knew, got through the season without injuries, but at least there were no casts involved, so that’s good.”
Micah Liechty: “Coach-ability. You can just tell him everything you need done and he goes right out and does it.”
Carter Young: “Fantastic scorer. He’s there every night. I loved how hard he worked in warm-ups and the things that he did.”
Logan Hunt: “Your tireless speed. I felt like he could run forever. I would watch him run by, and think, ‘Where is he getting this energy?’”
Jose Echeveria: “Your enthusiasm for the sport.” Richins relayed a story of a crestfallen Echeveria following a heartbreaking loss to Kelly Walsh in his first weekend with the team. “You can’t ask for a guy to be more bought in than that,” the coach said.
Krish Ahir: “Fun-loving and a happy guy all of the time. You could always look to Krish for a smile and he was always there doing work.”
Farid Olivera: “His quiet confidence and ability to keep working, even though I knew he didn’t understand a word I was saying,” which elicited loud laughter, as it was well known that Olivera is just beginning to learn the English language.
Sean Knighton and Carson Skaggs: “These were the two guys who were stuck between the two teams. Great leaders for the junior varsity.” Richins spoke of the duo’s collective patience when desiring to see varsity action, but would not.
“But when we called them up? ‘Yes, coach,’ and they went out, got busy and worked hard.”
Beckham Carver: Richins would often directly address an individual player and then describe that player’s attributes.
“Do you even weigh 100 pounds?” Richins queried of Carver. “To watch him throw his body around on the field and just risk it all...
The coach’s voice trailed off. “for your guys.”
Leonard Goetz: “He took coaching well.The thing I’ll miss most about Leonard was just the German soccer confidence. He walks in, he knows the game is his and the rest of us are just trying to figure it out.”
Fransi Killo: “I’m going to miss you a ton. What a great attitude, a great smile.”
Richins described how the Albanian foreign-exchange student progressed throughout the season to contribute valuable minutes to the team.
“I really appreciate him.”
Weston Wiley and Bradshaw Haack: “Talk about growth. Their capability, strength and courage showed every game this season.Those two guys in our midfield were our security blanket. We could move a lot of guys around them, change things up around them, but we had to have those guys in the middle of our field.
Victor Limon, Andrik Cortez, Ramon Rivera, Pablo Escalante and Tyus Cornia: “I’ve got a list of guys who just gave us a ton. Your explosiveness, your skill on the ball, your athleticism are the things that make every one of us excited for another soccer season,” the coach said of his returning nucleus, along with Wiley and Haack.
“To see what you guys are going to continue to grow into and how you will continue to carry our program forward -- what a great group of guys, what a great group of athletes, what a great core to have in your attack and all through the middle of your field.”
Richins closed with more words of thanks to the parents and booster club, with Maria Escalante receiving a special nod for providing meals and her unwavering support. He lauded praise on his coaching staff, noting the vast improvement of the goal keepers attributed to coach Cody Seale and how coach Ben Gilmore really brought cohesiveness to the junior varsity squad.
“My assistant coaches were invaluable,” Richins said. “They provided innovation and energy when I didn’t seem to have any to give.”
The festivities closed with the seniors team members bestowing gifts and words of thanks for the coaching staff.