For the first time since April 12, 2019, the Westmont men’s soccer team was able to continue one of its favorite traditions.
This past week, the Warriors returned to the Westmont observatory and gathered with a handful of new signees from this fall’s incoming class: men from the future Westmont class of 2026.
The first time the program celebrated their incoming class in this manner was in 2012, and while the past two years have been remote celebrations, this is the 10th consecutive year in which a ceremony has taken place.
“It was great to be back in person and involve families in the event,” said Westmont Head Coach Dave Wolf. “I think that the setting on the observatory deck, overlooking the field, is just the perfect metaphor for what’s to transpire during their careers. It was really special to be back with everyone in person.”
The Westmont men’s soccer team officially announced the signing of five incoming freshmen, with three of the men being central coast products, and two others from out of state.
From Dos Pueblos High School, goalkeeper Diego Garcia will be joining the Warriors this fall.
“Diego is a terrific goalkeeper who has chosen a long and difficult, but fruitful path to arrive at Westmont,” Wolf said. “He’s operated a bit in the shadows and out of the limelight, but has opted for the opportunity to play and hone this craft, even if that means sacrificing some recognition.
“We really like how gifted he is with his feet and how high of a soccer IQ he has. Today’s modern goalkeeper is basically another field player, and we will be very comfortable with Diego helping us to play out of the back.”
Garcia, who has spent his entire life in Santa Barbara, said, “After growing up here, and traveling around the country to play soccer, I knew it would be hard to leave. After talking to peers, mentors, and a lot of prayer, I trusted that the Lord would open up doors and guide me in the right direction.”
From Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, attacking player Erik Guerrero will begin his Westmont career in the fall.
“I chose Westmont because the coaches made me feel wanted here,” said the three-time All-Channel League striker from Los Alamos. “Also, the style of play is similar to the style of my club team. I know some of the guys already as well as two of my club teammates have committed as well. Of course, the campus is also really nice, and Montecito is a great location.”
“Erik is a talented attacking player who we have been tracking for quite some time,” said Wolf. “We are delighted to be adding him to our roster. Capable of playing inverted and off the right, this gifted left-footer will also likely see some playing time in the middle of the park.
“Lethal on set pieces and a very good passer, we expect Erik to get into the box score immediately upon his arrival.”
The final member coming to the Warriors from the Santa Barbara Soccer Club, joining both Garcia and Guerrero, is Christian Jimenez. Jimenez, a native of Santa Maria, is a defender coming to Westmont from Dunn School in Los Olivos.
“I chose Westmont because it had everything I was looking for in a college,” Jimenez said. “Playing soccer at the collegiate level had always been a dream of mine, so I was beyond excited when offered the opportunity to play for Westmont.
“Having gone to a private high school, receiving a quality education is something that I value very highly. The academic rigor at Westmont along with its inclusive and friendly community is something I look forward to experiencing next school year.”
“Christian is a young man who has really impressed us by the way he handled this past year,” Wolf said. “He has made the very most of some challenging circumstances related to the pandemic and the way in which recruiting was disrupted.
“He’s continued to work hard and also improved in some significant areas, most notably in his leadership and communication. We are welcoming him into our core of defenders, but also recognize that he has the capability of playing in some other places.”
The first of two men joining the Warriors from out of the area is Alex Reyes, a native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The versatile attacker will begin studying biology when he arrives on campus this fall.
In regards to his decision to become a Warrior, Reyes said, “Westmont has amazing facilities and rich culture not only athletically, but academically. When I finally made a visit in February, I was instantly drawn to the landscape of Westmont. Tucked away in the hills of Montecito with beautiful views from various parts of the campus, I knew Westmont would be somewhere I would want to spend the next four years of my life.
“During that visit, I was able to meet with the team and get a taste of campus life. The team was extremely inviting and the training sessions were very high level. Overall, my time on campus was unforgettable and I knew that I wanted to be a Warrior.”
“Alex is physically ready to play college soccer,” said Wolf. “He has a nice combination of both strength as well as composure, allowing him to play a physical brand of football while keeping his emotions in check. He is also a versatile player who could potentially play in numerous parts of the field.
“We’ll be excited to develop him and find the position that ultimately fits him best. Alex connected with our staff and players in a very comfortable way and it almost seems like he’s already been in our program for years.”
The final young man to join the Warriors’ incoming class is Derek Shoring from Sammamish, Wash. Shoring, another defender, will be studying computer science in the fall.
“I chose Westmont because of the close community and bonds that the students share with one another,” said Shoring. “I like the ratio of students per teacher, and I feel that the setup Westmont has will help me be the best student and athlete I can be.”
Wolf said, “Derek is a powerful athlete and a left-sided player who we believe will adapt very quickly to the rigors of college soccer. He also possesses a really good personality and demeanor, which will ingrain him in our program quickly and enable us to utilize his skill set.”
These five men will arrive with the rest of the Warriors in early August for training camp, ahead of their season beginning in the following weeks. For Wolf, he will be beginning his 32nd and final season at the head coach of the Westmont men’s soccer team.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.