November 13, 2012

My Championship Experience - Men's Soccer Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships. 

Kansas City junior Tom Gaus' championship experience at the 2012 Summit League Men's Soccer Championship:

Welcome to the 2012 Summit League Tournament. To give a little perspective on the portrayal of my tournament experience, let me give you a little bit of information on myself.

My name is Tom Gaus and I am a redshirt junior transfer student. I transferred to UMKC this past fall from the University of Tulsa after three years of competition having reached the conference tournament two of those years. Through this experience, I have formed expectations on what a conference tournament experience should entail and let me tell you, The Summit League does a heck of a job. From the determination of the host school to the banquet dinner to the preparation of the fields and games, The Summit League has given off a very professional and organized image that really enhances the experience for all of the teams involved.

I speak for my team and the other Summit League participants in thanking The Summit League for doing an incredible job in preparing for this 2012 League Tournament.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
      We began the day much like many other travel days by arriving to the locker room and packing our bags. However, today there was an excitement about the team. We all knew that there was a tremendous opportunity ahead of us and were eager to pursue our goal of coming home with the championship trophy. Spirits were high during the bus ride as we watched Anchorman and a few other movies along the trip.

We stopped in Hannibal, Mo., to devour some Subway. As always, we enjoyed observing the faces of the two or three workers who just realized they were about to make about 24 foot-long sandwiches for a bunch of loud, hungry college kids. The foreign players, as always, had plenty to say about being in the middle of nowhere. Of course, this time, us Midwest boys took the opportunity to educate the complainers on the story of Huckleberry Finn and how the events of that iconic story took place on the streets of Hannibal, where we were eating. Our pride had little effect on their opinions as they were more focused on getting to the front of the line. We finished eating and went on our way, arriving at the hotel a few hours later.

We had a short practice to get our legs warm shortly after arriving and later returned to the hotel to freshen up. We all got ready for the banquet as the team put on their finest attire which, to be honest, will probably sit, untouched, in the closet until next year. The boys and I, brimming with confidence, arrived to the banquet and waited for the All-League awards. It was great to see the participants of the tournament being represented so well in the first and second team All-League awards. To add to our enjoyment, the food was excellent. A few players probably went overboard in their excessive consumption of lasagna followed by chocolate-chip cookies but according to them, they were just “carb loading” for the games. Stuffed beyond the point of satisfaction, we returned to the hotel and got some rest for the game.

Friday, November 9, 2012
      We had an early wake up on game day and ate breakfast at the hotel. We were then given a little time to prepare ourselves mentally for the game before having a team meeting. After the meeting, the boys and I seemed to have a firm grasp on our personal and team goals for the game. We were all antsy and just wanted to start playing already. We departed for the field about an hour and a half before game time. Upon seeing the pitch, the amount of cameras, and supporters the boys and I were “absolutely buzzing” for the match. The atmosphere provided for an efficient, energetic warm-up and before we knew it, game time was upon us.

The game, like many of our league games earlier in the year, had to progress into overtime to establish a victor. To our disappointment, that victor was not UMKC. Western Illinois put the ball in the back of the net in the first overtime, thus ending our season. It was a tough loss for the group, especially the seniors who may not have another opportunity to compete in this high of a caliber of organized soccer. It really put the game into perspective. We younger guys quickly realized how much we love playing the game and how we do not want to have the same feeling next year. We packed up and headed back to Kansas City.
Unfortunately there was no Saturday or Sunday for the UMKC men’s team at the tournament but we did come away with a great experience. We heard that Western Illinois ended up winning the tournament, thus entering the NCAA tournament. I again speak for the rest of The Summit League in saying thank you to Western Illinois for hosting the tournament, good luck in the NCAA’s, and we’ll be coming for you next year!


- Tom Gaus

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Volleyball Championship, Nov. 16-17 and throughout the 2012-13 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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