BY JENNIFER LOPEZ
Rain or shine, the Rams women’s soccer team meets at 8 a.m. on the field, Monday through Friday. Among them is red-shirted stopper Lucia Olsen.
Olson has been playing sports nearly all her life and has been on the soccer team since the team’s debut at City College, two years ago.
But she will sit this season out — whether she will be able to continue playing soccer in the future is still up in the air.
Olson has made a conscious decision to take better care of her body. She has recently had knee problems, and has had asthma since she was 11.
“My body is used to the strain and the hell I put it through,” Olsen said.
“Sometimes, I ignore my body and think it’s just a little sore. Then my body will make sure I hear it and hit me with pain or an asthma attack.”
During practices Olson runs alongside her teammates and will occasionally fall out of formation to catch her breath.
During a recent practice, as the team ran a final four laps around the field, they pleaded with her to push through and finish with them. She panted and searched for her inhaler. Walking around in circles, Olson leaned on a table trying to slow her breathing. She raised her arms up to open her lungs.
People who suffer from asthma have extra-sensitive airways that become red, swollen and fill with mucus, narrowing the path for air to pass through. The muscles around the airway squeeze and tighten together, causing spasms.
Olson recalls her first asthma attack catching her by surprise.
“I had an attack during a basketball game when I was 11 years old,” Olson said. “I had never had one before, so it scared the hell out of me and my mom.”
Olson has played soccer, basketball, softball and volleyball since the third grade. For the last five years, Olson has also been studying Polynesian dancing.
“I had to put a hold on dancing because the trainer said soccer or hula — my knees can’t do both,” Olson said.
Women’s Soccer Team Head Coach Cassandra Cunningham stresses the three P’s: practice proper planning.
Cunningham insists Olson has her inhaler at all times, but acknowledges the adjustments Olson has made to participate in soccer.
“Lucia has had to learn to be tough and understand her limitations. She must always be prepared,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham doesn’t believe in special treatment of athletes with disabilities. In her 15 years as a soccer coach, she has seen chronic problems plague even the most talented athletes.
“The mind is stronger than the body. It’s a matter of mental ability and proper maintenance of those disabilities,” Cunningham said.
Olson is considering quitting outdoor soccer. She is trying to avoid permanent damage to her knees so that she will still be able to play into her 40’s.
“My mom always said I would be a soccer mom … a mom who played soccer,” Olson said.
BY DESMOND MILLER
The Ram's cross-country team is poised to take the NorCal and possibly the state championships with the help of their new coach and an almost all-new squad.
Former student and Olympic runner Bolota Asmerom is the new distance coach for the Rams and feels that he has a good group of runners.
“Each one is given a leadership role that fits their individual specialty. My role is to supplement and bring them all together,” Asmerom said.
“I want to be a part of a winning squad, and with the track team winning three in a row, it just makes me want to work harder to bring my guys up to that level.”
The team is young, and all but one player is new to the squad. The chemistry is good because most members have competed against each other in high school, and some in college.
The cross-country team finished 4th at NorCal and 11th in the state last season.
There are currently 6 women and 7 men on the team, making it a full squad.
Return runner Anthony Tablizo, who has been running for about 10 years, has some high expectations after coming back from an injury. He is looking to surpass last year's performance.
“I am the only returning runner and feel that I need to step up and make sure that everyone is doing their job. I knew last year that I would be the only one coming back and I have been mentally as well as physically preparing myself,” Tablizo said.
“I feel that we can possibly have a better team than last year. For our first race I am really excited to see what we can do.”
Freshman runner Jaime Gonzalez ran cross country for Westmore High School in Daly City and is ready to experience running at the college level.
“I don’t know what to expect, this is a whole new league now. But we have a good squad and we all push each other in practices, so I think we are all going to do good in our first track meet,” Gonzalez said.
"I feel the guys will do well, this is what they have been training for," Asmerom said.
SATURDAY, 10/7 1 p.m. Rams vs. Los Medanos
SATURDAY, 10/14 1 p.m. Rams at Feather River
FRIDAY, 10/6 4 p.m. Rams at Evergreen
TUESDAY, 10/10 4 p.m. Rams at Foothill
WEDNESDAY, 10/4 6:30 P.M. Rams at Chabot
FRIDAY, 10/6 6:30 p.m. Rams vs. De Anza
SATURDAY, 10/7 4 p.m. Chrystal Springs Invitational
FRIDAY, 10/13 3:30 p.m. Toro Park Invitaional
FOOTBALL: The Rams received their first scare of the season against the No. 6 ranked Fresno but managed to sneak away with a 34-31 vistory to improve to 3-0. Battling back from a 21-0 deficit early in the second quarter, the Rams mounted a comeback as quarterback Zac Lee completed 31-of-48 passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns. With 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, Lee connected with receiver Deric Davis for a 25-yard touchdown to put the Ras up by three points. On the following possession, cornerback Durell Clark-James intercepted a pass with 33 seconds remaining to seal the victory. -– Miles Harwell
MEN'S SOCCER: The duo of Chris Deal and Stephen Cordova dominated in this 3-2 victory over Modesto. Deal scored all three goals off assists from Stephen Cordova. The Arm's shutout one of the best teams in the state 3-0. In this upset The Deal and Cordova duo struck again against Santa Rosa. Deal scored two goals and Cordova scored a goal and added one assist off a Deal goal. -- Jose Gutierrez
VOLLEYBALL: Captain Monica Sparks twisted her ankle early in the first game of the Delta Classic Tournament, forcing all the defensive specialists on the team to become outside hitters. The Rams lost their home opener to Canada 21-30, 18-30, and 16-30. Even though Sparks was back in the game, Parks said she wasn't fully recovered. The Rams open conference play at home on Sept. 9 against Skyline College. -- Karen M. Kinney