Sep. 3—JAMESTOWN — When some college athletes retire from their sports, they do not want to stay involved, and some make the decision to stay in the sport. Two University of Jamestown goalkeepers have made the decision to retire and transition to coaching.
Last season, Jimmies men's soccer goalie Keanan Ainge played in one game where he was forced out at halftime due to an injury, after making five saves and giving up one goal, for a .833 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. Jimmies women's soccer goalie Aida Roldan also played sparingly appearing in one game and saving all three shots she faced.
Despite being backups, Roldan and Ainge had chances to start this season but decided to forgo their remaining years of eligibility. Ainge had two years of eligibility left and Roldan had two years.
Their decisions were complicated by the fact that both Roldan and Ainge are international students. Roldan is from San Adrian, Spain, and Ainge is from Cambridge, England.
"After several weeks of just thinking about this topic and consulting with my people, I came to the conclusion that stopping playing was going to be the best thing on a personal level, even if this was not what I really wanted," Roldan said. "I can say that this was one of the most painful decisions I have had to make since soccer is a big part of my life and it is the reason why I am in the United States."
Ainge said once it became clear that his career was over, he knew he wanted to help other players live their dreams.
"I wanted to get into coaching for quite some time. It is something that when I was younger, when I knew that I'd retire I'd get into," Ainge said. "I think as I got older and I understood the game more and saw it in other people who had better ability than me I knew I wanted to help them and help them progress more than I wanted to help myself."
Roldan said her favorite part of coaching is figuring out ways to help the new goalies and what to do in practice to achieve that.
"My favorite part of coaching is being able to put into practice certain and different activities that I previously had from my perspective as a player, that is, having the possibility to try or modify some activities, finding the most appropriate exercise for each training," Roldan said. "I also like to know the opinion of the players to have various references in this soccer environment."
As far as how he got hired to be an assistant coach, Ainge said the process was difficult, but he was grateful for Jimmies head coach Connor Campbell's help. Ainge also said it helped that he played for Campbell in the past.
"For me having played for coach Campbell for three years I knew him quite well and knew what he wanted for his goalkeepers because I had to do it myself," Ainge said. "It is something that I knew what the responsibilities were and as a student before I fully transitioned into a coach I was starting to do."
Since they are freshly removed from playing, both Roldan and Ainge have had to adjust their relationship with their former teammates to be more professional, something that Ainge admitted has been a struggle at times.
"It's difficult at times, some of the boys sometimes they don't remember the boundaries, and other times I don't either but that's OK," Ainge said. "It's a learning process for us all, we're a big family, we're all brothers. It's just that maybe I'm an older brother rather than the same age now. It's definitely been challenging at times, remembering my role has sometimes been difficult but at the end of the day I wouldn't change my role with these boys that I have now."
Despite changing from a player to a coach, Roldan said her relationship with head coach Nick Becker has not changed.
Roldan said her strong point as a coach is her work ethic and that she needs to work on is her understanding of how to play the other 10 positions on the field. Ainge said his best skill as a coach is his ability to make the goalies that are under his stewardship the space to grow and improve. Ainge said what he needed to improve upon is his professionalism with his players at times.
Both teams have played two games so far this season and the men's squad has turned to Matt English in between the sticks, who has a 1.50 goals against average and an 80% save percentage.
"(English has) come such a long way in terms of playing ability and technique and fitness, and mentality, his personality too," Ainge said. "He's grown so much since the first time I met him a year ago and to now be starting two of the most important games we've had so far and to be putting in such a good performance in both has been excellent. Like I said before with coaching, it's about giving the players the right tools but you can't do it for them and I think Matt's an excellent example of that."
The women have given the starting nod to Tea Pence, who has a 1.00 goals against average and an 84.6% save percentage.