Ohio Wesleyan targeted by thieves ahead of national championships
Author: Tim Gerber , firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a rude welcome to the Alamo city for a college soccer team in town to play for the NCAAź Division III Men's Soccer Championship.
The Ohio Wesleyan men's soccer team hadn't even made it to their hotel Wednesday afternoon before thieves broke into their vans and stole their team gear and personal items.
Despite the setback, members of the team said they aren't going to let it ruin their weekend. "No matter what happens we're going to be prepared to play," said sophomore player Paolo Bucci.
The team was trying to bounce back after a rough start to their national championship run by practicing Wednesday night at Trinity University.
Just a few hours earlier, after landing at the airport, the team packed into three vans to head downtown to their hotel. They stopped off for a bite to eat at a Lincoln Heights Panera Bread restaurant.
When they returned to the vans less than hour later, they realized they had been robbed. "We couldn't believe what we saw when the bags weren't back in our vans," Bucci said.
It appears someone used a screw driver to pry open the locks on the front doors and took what they could grab, including thousands of dollars in sports equipment and personal items. At least two players lost everything they brought with them.
"I had my Macbook computer (taken), my beats headphones, my iPod, all my school stuff," said freshman player Mason Hoge.
Hoge said he was most concerned about the loss of his laptop. Next week is finals week for the university and he was working on several projects and papers that are due.
Team coach Jay Martin said school officials are aware of the situation and will make accommodations for the players to get their work turned in.
"I've called the president and the dean of students all ready and they're very supportive and they're going to help the guys get through it," Martin said. "We're trying to get some more uniforms down from Ohio over night, so we're working on it."
Martin said he's just trying to refocus his rattled players. "I think we have to tell them that look we'll replace that stuff, but you'll never replace the opportunity you have this weekend and that's what we're going to try to go on," Martin said.
So far the team is taking it all in good stride. "All of us are really excited to play in the first place, and this is just going to give us a little more motivation," Bucci said. "We know what's ahead of us and I think we're pretty focused on the goal."
Trinity University and San Antonio Sports are hosting the national championships this weekend and they are obviously embarrassed by this disappointing start.
"We know this is not representative of our city and we don't want them to go away thinking that," said Mary Japhet of San Antonio Sports. "We want them to go away with an absolutely unblemished view of our beautiful city, and having the public step up would be very helpful."
Japhet is hopeful someone who knows about the burglary will contact police so the items can be returned.
In the meantime, the head coach of Trinity's soccer team allowed the Wesleyan players to borrow some of his team's shoes and other equipment for Wednesday's practice.
"They're good folks and they stepped up and did whatever they could to help out with gear," Japhet said. "Anything to just get these guys out on the field and practicing."
Ohio Wesleyan will play it's Semifinal game Friday at 5:30 p.m. against Montclair State at the Blossom Soccer Stadium.