44 seconds into the fifth game of the promising Franciscan University men’s soccer team’s sea-son, senior captain Joseph Duran lofted the ball near the goal from well beyond the goalie box, and junior Leo Hermann sent the ball into the net. Twenty-one minutes later, the pair again connected, Duran with the assist, Hermann with the goal, adding to a lead the Barons would not relinquish as they took down Alfred State.
It is these moments for which newly promoted Head Coach Christian Bobak prepared and hoped, even before the season began. Said Bobak, “I asked the team to do these physical benchmarks over the summer, and they take it very seriously, and have shown their commitment to the program.”
Bobak, who this year has assumed the role of head coach, said he is still adjusting to his new position. “I’m learning all the behind the scenes, as far as paperwork and what really goes on, learning a lot of things other than coaching you have to worry about. Sometimes you just want to get out there and coach.”
That adjustment has also taken place on the field. “We’re growing. The team is still learning how I do things.” That adjustment, he continued, has been greatly aided by his experience on the coaching staff during the previous year. “It was good that I was the assistant so they got to know me for a year, and they have responded in an amazing way.”
Aforementioned senior captain Joseph Duran and fellow senior Dominic Vander Woude are two of the players whom Bobak credits with his smooth transition from assistant to head coach. The solid leadership of both coaches and upperclassmen will be vital for a team Bobak called “a young group that’s excited and ready.”
More importantly, Bobak understands athletics to be an outlet for faith and character formation. He has allowed team leaders to positively influence new members of the team, and the results have been positive. “The older guys are witnesses the younger guys as far as what it looks like to be a man of God,” said Bobak.
The head coach also cited a team retreat on masculinity and the sacraments as a means toward forming solid men both on and off the field.
Logistically, the men were selected by AMCC league coaches to finish sixth of ten teams in a preseason poll. Coach Bobak anticipates more. “I hope and expect that we finish higher than that. The boys are committed this year, and it shows with the results.”
In his first season as head coach, Christian Bobak has led Franciscan’s men’s team to a 3-2-1 record, with the Barons set to begin conference play September 24 against Hilbert College. He
has established a winning attitude, has instilled the image of a man of God as a witness both dur-ing competition and after, and has the Barons playing soccer the right way. Come playoff time, the results will be well worth watching.