Although it isn’t the NCAA, it’s considered the next best thing.

For seniors Nicolas Bouchard, Elias Ramos and Gustavo Bocaranda, this semester marks their fourth year playing on the UTA men’s soccer club.

Bouchard, an economics major, is the team’s captain this year and is hoping to lead UTA to its first appearance in a regional tournament since the club’s creation in 2006.

Ramos, a math major, was the team’s president until deciding to take a break this year, so he could enjoy his last season as a player, he said.

And for Bocaranda, a Venezuela native studying civil engineering, he is the team president, general manager and one of four student-coaches.

Together, they have led the soccer club in its efforts to recruit players, hold practices and schedule games without the help of a governing body like the NCAA.

“You can go to a Sunday league or you can play intramurals and they are fun, but that’s all they are,” Ramos said. “If you want to go out and you want to compete, this is what you want to do.”

For Ramos and Bouchard, club sports offered the only outlet for them to compete against teams that are a step above the intramural leagues, Bouchard said.

Bouchard played soccer for his high school in Haltom City, but without the option to continue playing on a NCAA sanctioned team, he turned to the next best thing.

Club sports.

“It’s definitely a step down from a NCAA sport, but it’s a huge step up from intramurals,” Bouchard said. “It’s not too much of a time commitment. It’s four hours a week with practices, and then, plus you have a game every weekend first eight weeks of the semester, so it’s not too bad. It’s definitely more competitive than intramurals, which is nice.”

Just like Bouchard and Ramos, Bocaranda said the men’s soccer club has meant a lot to him, given it was the first group of people he met after transferring to UTA.

“They made me feel like I was home,” Bocaranda said. “I am really thankful for that, and for me, it’s something I really love to do. I have been playing soccer since I was seven years old and since then, I have had a passion for it.”

The men’s soccer club is in the midst of its season with games against Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Christian University next on the schedule.

UTA has yet to make the postseason, but Bocaranda, Bouchard, and Ramos are hoping to end that trend this year and send off the team on a better foot.

@ToriDewberry

setareh.dewberry@mavs.uta.edu

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