Jake Yates, a fifth year Mechanical Engineering major, has played soccer ever since he was six years old. Coming to RIT, he knew he wasn’t ready to stop playing yet. “I remember the visit and everything. I watched the Men’s Soccer Team play Nazareth in the conference tournament. They lost, but still I thought, ‘Yeah, I could play for this team. I like the way they play.’” Throughout his time with the Men’s Soccer Team, Yates has done more than just play; he’s worked hard and achieved both on and off the field, and he knows he’s all the better for it.
Yates has been a strong all-around player for RIT soccer for the last five years and an even stronger captain for the last three. He’s found that being a captain really improved his playing ability and his work ethic. “I was forced to lead by example. I’m not really a vocal leader, but I like being in that leadership position,” Yates said. It’s true that this year could have gone better for the team — they ended up with a final record of eight wins, six losses and three ties. “This season, we kind of underachieved; we had the most talented group of guys here of any of my past years, and we lost to teams that we were way better than.” Still, the season as full of memorable experiences for Yates and his teammates.
The Tiger’s preseason trip to Spain was both a learning and bonding experience, and it was definitely one of the highlights of Yates’s time with RIT soccer. Yates recommended, “If you get a chance to take a trip abroad with your team, do it. I wish everyday that I could go back to Spain and do it all over again.” He felt he learned a lot from the phenomenal instructors over there, and they definitely helped him improve and get back on his feet after an ankle injury during preseason kept him from playing last fall.
This year, Yates started in all 17 games of the season, earning two goals, two assists and a total of 10 shots on goal for the year. His best memory on the field came early on in the season during the Doug May Tournament match against Nazareth College. Down a goal in the 85th minute, Yates headed the ball in off a corner kick to send the game into overtime where the Tigers eventually won. He was named the Tournament MVP.
With all these fond memories, Yates is hesitant to leave the team he’s been so integral to these past few years. “My last game, kind of an emotional day. But I’m going to go and enjoy my last two quarters here; last two quarters before I have to start a real life,” he said. Yates will be graduating this spring and hopes to one day work in the aerospace industry. He has co-oped at Bausch and Lomb for two quarters and is confident he’ll obtain a full-time position there right out of school. He doesn’t necessarily plan to stay there though. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in Rochester. It’s not that I hate it; I’m a surfer, I want to go some place warm, somewhere out west.”
As for soccer, Yates knows he can’t give up the sport he’s played for the better part of his life. He plans to join an adult men’s league, maybe play some indoor soccer, and enjoy some more relaxed competition after all the hard work he’s put in to becoming an all-around star.