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GRCC Men’s Soccer “founding fathers” looking to set the standard for the program in inaugural season

(Blace Carpenter/The Collegiate)

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s soccer team heads into their inaugural season under head coach Damiekco Smith. Smith is looking to bring a ‘win now’ mentality to GRCC in his first year as the head coach.

“My goal in year one is to hit the ground running while building a successful program,” Smith said. “We need to win with class and lose with grace.”

Prior to Smith taking the GRCC job, he spent a combined 27 years coaching including serving as head women’s coach for the University of Michigan-Flint and the assistant for the University of Michigan-Flint men’s soccer program. He also won three indoor national championships with his 2 Designs All-Star Team while going a perfect 30-0 record. Smith most recently coached at Wellspring Prep High School girls’ soccer team.

“The biggest emphasis this year will be understanding the importance of stressing leadership and accountability for this young program,” Smith said.

Leadership and accountability is the biggest thing Coach Smith stressed while also making sure the players are prepared for their first game and in shape.

“The team has been working very hard every day. We’ve been practicing between two to three hours a day and lifting three to five days a week,” said freshman striker Elijah Maas. “The work we have put in will show on the field. Coach has held us to a high standard and it will pay off soon.”

As the Raiders head into their first season, the expectation remains clear: win a conference championship.

“There will be some learning curves because we are playing catch up as it relates to the other programs in our division,” Smith said. “We will not make any excuses for our performance. I teach these young men that ‘when you make excuses, you just highlight your mistakes.’ So whatever happens this season we will own it.”

GRCC heads into its inaugural season in the MCCAA (Michigan Community College Athletic Association) with five other competitors, including their first matchup of the season against Jackson College Aug. 19 on the road. They also will face conference opponents including Schoolcraft College, Lake Michigan College, Muskegon Community College and Marian University’s Ancilla. 

“My overall goal will be to win our conference and make a push through regionals in order to make it to Nationals because that would be a statement for our team and the GRCC community,” sophomore defender Ian Gunderson said. “I am excited for the season to start and it is truly an honor to be a part of the first ever men’s soccer team at GRCC.”

The Raiders start the season by traveling to Jackson College on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 3 p.m. 

“It feels very cool to be a part of the first team at the school,” freshman winger Lucas Freriks said. “My coach likes to call us the founding fathers and I’m just hoping we can make a statement this first year.”

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