Soccer players are an interesting athletic breed. With thin, sinewy bodies they run for 90 minutes straight, at one moment lulled into an attentive jog as they watch the play on the other side of the field, and in the next they dart off, as fast as a cheetah to pursue a misbehaved defender or a breakaway play. In almost all countries, except this one, soccer players are gods among men. And, even though American soccer players do not get nearly enough media attention compared to athletes of other sports, as soccer acquires a growing fan base in the US, local communities are beginning to recognize the sheer talent of these men and women.
Since 2007, soccer in San Luis Obispo has turned heads in the community. The Cal Poly men’s soccer team qualified for the NCAA Big West Conference Tournament’s field of 48 in 2008, for the first time in 15 years, and clinched a trip to the semifinals at the end of the 2009 season. In the face of such media attention, the Cal Poly men’s soccer team has become somewhat of a legend, standing on its own against the football and basketball teams as a force to be reckoned with.
Once player that has consistently distinguished himself on the pitch since his arrival at Cal Poly in
2007, is Junior Forward David Zamora. Born on July 4, 1987, the Costa Rican native has been a powerful force for the Cal Poly squad and has been earning the Mustangs high numbers for three consecutive seasons.
For Zamora, soccer may as well have been his first word. Soccer is the national sport in Costa Rica so it was a constant presence in his life from an early age. Zamora says that before he was even able to walk he had acquired a collection of soccer balls as presents, and he says it was only natural that, as soon as he was able to run, he joined his older brother and his cousins on the field. There is even a picture out there somewhere of Zamora at age two kicking a ball to his brother who was playing goalkeeper.
With so much soccer in his daily life, Zamora followed the natural course of many talented boys his age and played soccer for his primary and secondary school teams. He also had the chance to play for the youth teams of two of the biggest professional teams in Costa Rica, Saprissa and Alajuela, and gained on-the-field experience that most young American soccer players only dream of.
Zamora’s first San Luis Obispo experience was during a recruiting trip in the Fall of 2006, and it seems as though his first impressions of the Central Coast were an indicator of his inevitable future with the Mustangs. “I just loved the place,” he says, “beautiful mountains, the beach minutes away and the weather was awesome. It reminded me of back home.” Zamora also identifies with the small town feel and says it reminds him of the one he grew up in. Of the city itself he notes that “there is everything you need, but [can] still maintain a certain tranquility that you don’t get in a big city.”
When it came time for recruitment, Zamora did his research before taking Cal Poly into consideration. He says knew from the start that the program wasn’t ranked but that the recent installation of Head Coach Paul Moocher, who was coming from a successful D3 program at UC Santa Cruz, and who had been a player for the MLS and Austrian soccer league, intrigued him. “Even though there were better programs that wanted me,” Zamora says, “I knew that here at Cal Poly I was going to be part of something different.”
Zamora couldn’t have been more right in his prediction for success, and he says that his outlook has only changed for the better. He acknowledges that since he’s been with the program, his coaches and his team have changed Mustang Soccer’s reputation across the country. “My first season we were ranked at number 10 in the nation,” Zamora points out, “we have broken several school records in the last three years and have [even] made it to the second round of NCAA playoffs.” And even with all of these accomplishments on the board for this successful team Zamora says that there’s a long way to go and plenty of room for improvement.
In terms of his individual involvement with the game Zamora says his favorite part about soccer, besides scoring goals, is the passion that a sport can bring [out] in a person, a team, and even a country. In terms of his personal game, he considers his strongest skill to be that ability to score goals and maintain offensive possession of the ball. In terms of what he needs to work on he says that he would love to be faster as well as improve the defensive side of his game.
With spring season less than a month away Zamora has some thoughts on how the team can improve their level of play to be ready for strong opponent. He feels that the team needs to work on developing their style of play, which is possession based. In terms of next season Zamora, has set his eyes on the Big West prize. “I’m looking forward to be able to win our school its first Big West title and personally score more than ten goals in the season. I’m four goals away, “ he says, “so accomplishing that would be a great thing to do.”
When it comes to his future outside of soccer, Zamora, who is a Business major and believes that the program will give him the right tools to go out into the real world and work in any kind of industry, wants to go back home and help his family run its construction company. However, don’t expect his soccer pursuits to end upon graduation from Cal Poly. When asked if he could see himself going pro he says, with an air of mystery, “I’ve been working to get some opportunities after I graduate but we’ll see what happens.”