They are on the fast track in a field that has very few openings.
Junior Collin Box and senior Jared Rust have a rare opportunity to coach at the collegiate level. Even more rare is the fact that the two former Corban soccer men are coaching their peers. Transitioning from players to managers, Box and Rust are leading Willamette University men’s soccer club team.
Box, who suffered a series of injuries, ended his competitive playing days at Corban in 2008. Since then, he has kept himself busy on the sidelines trading his soccer boots for a clipboard and whistle. A heralded player in his own right, he has given back to the community through youth soccer programs. He found an opening at the Cascade Futbol Club, which teaches the game to youngsters up to college age.
“Last fall was the first time in my entire life that I was not able to play,” he said. “I wanted to stay around the game, so I called up my old club and they gave me the job.”
Now Box is the head coach of the U-11 (11-year-old) boys’ Barcelona Club that bridges “the gap between recreational and competitive soccer” and an assistant coach for a U-13 girls’ squad.
This year, Willamette called upon Box after several Bearcat players mentioned him to university officials. After accepting the post, Box threw around ideas with Rust.
“We were shooting the breeze about how we both wanted to coach, and he offered me the assistant’s job. I accepted,” said Rust.
A senior who finished his collegiate soccer career this month, Rust hopes to keep coaching.
“I’ve always wanted to see the development of the game. There is no better way than to coach,” he said.
Willamette’s club team offers players a chance to maintain their skills when they cannot dedicate a large amount of time to the sport for a variety of reasons.
“This club gives players who can’t maintain the commitment of a collegiate season the opportunity to practice and continue to hone their skills without the time constraints,” said Rust.
And sharpen their skills they do. Willamette’s club team has faced stiff competition by playing Division I opponents Portland State and the University of Portland, among others.
Another avenue that Box and Rust recognize in coaching is the chance to spread the gospel.
“This is the most awesome thing about getting this coaching position at Willamette,” Box said. “I have felt called to reach out to students at Willamette this semester, and this definitely provides me an opportunity for friendships.”
The two coaches feed off each other in their ideology of the sport and in the central role that Christ has in every undertaking.
“I have already had chances to talk with some of my players about Jesus,” Box said. “Having Jared as my assistant is incredible. We both see the game the same way and have the same thoughts about how to coach. It’s also really cool to have another guy who loves Jesus to be able to partner with in order to share the gospel to our players,” Box said.