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Bend it Like Gravity

In America, the popularity of professional soccer may never reach the heights of high-scoring, commercial-break-friendly games like basketball, baseball and football. Here at SLAC, however, the world's favorite sport has been thriving—and dominating the athletic scene—for over 30 years. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at lunchtime, the main green transforms into an animated pitch, as soccer-ball-dribbling SLAC employees and students hustle, frolic and savor the pleasures of "the beautiful game."

Rafa Miranda, who has played soccer at SLAC since he was a student in the 1970s, and organized the game since 2001, emphasized the most fundamental aspects of the SLAC soccer game. "We're here to exercise and have fun," he said. "You really don't need experience to play, and only positive, encouraging comments are accepted. And absolutely no slide tackles, to keep us old folks from getting hurt."

The group's friendly, recreational attitude allows people of all skill levels to enjoy the game. According to Miranda, "many players had never played before, and didn't really know the game, but we helped them out and coached them. Now they're doing really well." Meanwhile, those who are more experienced still enjoy the opportunity to exercise, sharpen their skills and have fun with their friends.

"There is a very positive attitude out there," added Lou Garcia, who has played regularly for years. "Everyone has fun. It's been great."

The players are grateful to the SLAC community, particularly the medical center, for their strong support of the program. "Anyone who wants to start exercising with SLAC soccer can get a free physical and get started with an exercise program to track their health and weight loss," said Miranda.

And for those worried about taking time off from work, Miranda mentioned that "a lot of supervisors are very considerate, providing make-up time so their workers can come and play with us."

Ultimately, whether you're a seasoned player who can dribble and score with panache, or someone who just likes to run around and kick things, you will find a fun, friendly playground three days a week on SLAC's luscious turf.

Interested players should contact Lou Garcia to be added to the e-mail list.

Elizabeth Buchen, SLAC Today, October 17, 2007

Above image: Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, players of all skill levels enjoy a recreational soccer game on the SLAC green. (Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)