Red River College faces another year of high turnover and intense recruiting

By Cassidy Dankochik

The lifeblood of any College athletic program is recruiting. In the NCAA, schools will do anything to get a recruit, including paying players. Red River College Athletics face an uphill climb tougher than the biggest of recruiting battles down south.

With most programs at Red River College only two years, the need to constantly find players to replace graduates is high, especially when they’re up against universities in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), like the Canadian Mennonite University and Brandon University.

Chuck Mrena, the men’s soccer head coach, says that the typical Red River College athlete is in a different part of their lives compared to the typical University student.

“I think there is a larger proportion of the players that we get that have other priorities, and the soccer team is much lower on the priority list than a university student,” Mrena said.

The men’s team captain from 2017, Alex Castro, is ineligible to play for the Rebels this year, because of a lighter course load. Castro is staying on with the Rebels as an assistant coach.

“He has tons to offer,” Mrena said.

Men’s soccer head coach Chuck Mrena with his team in 2018. /CASSIDY DANKOCHIK

Women’s soccer head coach Doug Lawrie agrees, saying he recruits aggressively throughout the year, out of necessity. He said the women’s team only has four returning players in 2018. Lawrie is involved with women’s soccer at many levels, including summer leagues, high school, and club soccer. One place that has been fruitful for the program has been referrals from program Alumni.

“As soon as I hear about a potential player, I make contact with them,” he said. “One of the major reasons I lose players is their need to work part-time jobs.”

Lawrie said he talks to over 60 players throughout the year and hopes to have a roster of 16 when the season starts.

“It takes a lot of time outside of the games and practices themselves,” he said.

Despite all the recruiting work coaches put in during the year, sometimes a gem just falls into your lap. That’s happened this year with the men’s team leading scorer Ameer Kinnarath. Kinnarath was convinced to sign up by his sister, who played for Brandon University.

“I wanted as much soccer as I could have,” he said.

Kinnarath was a little apprehensive when he first showed up, as there were only eight players at the recruiting day, but has settled into his role as a finisher on the Rebels.

“It went well. I like the coach,” he said.

To check out a more extensive interview with Kinnarath, check out the upcoming Red River Report podcast.