Callender looks to lead men’s soccer team


Jason Howell

Senior Kyle Callender goes in for the slide tackle against an opponent during a match against Western Illinois on Oct. 18, 2014 at the Eastern practice field.

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

Senior Kyle Callender was named the captain of the men’s soccer team earlier in the year by his teammates and is coming off a season where he started in each game.

“I got voted captain for this team in January, we voted as a team,” he said. “Previous to this, I was the captain of my high school team.”

He also has held a couple of non-athletic leadership positions in high school also.

Callender went to high school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and was selected to attend a leadership firm in the summer by his athletic director.

“I got selected as a sophomore when I attended it and in my junior year they invited me to be a student athlete leader of it.” he said.

Callender is not the only captain of the team; he shares the role with fellow senior Nick Smith.

“We kind of just lead obviously simple things like warm ups and stuff like that,” he said. “We also are the kind of people that the coach looks to in terms of like if he ever has questions about the team or if he ever wants anything done.”

Callender added that Eastern coach Kiki Lara looks to Smith and him to help out and get simple things done.

His captain role with Smith expands a lot farther than just on the soccer field.

Smith and Callender speak a lot in terms of just their team whether it will be in the locker room or after the game.

“At practice we are the first two he looks to, to step up and have a voice within the team.” Callender said. “We took on a little bit larger of a leadership role in terms of Kiki in particular. He asked us to be sending out biweekly emails to the team on just different topics related to our team. In terms of soccer. In terms of academics.”

The new style of play that head coach Kiki Lara is implementing is something Callender is working on learning each day as the season nears.

“A big thing for us is just learning and developing in Kiki’s new system, style of play,” he said. “He’s kind of implementing something we’ve never done here at least in my three years coming in so for us learning that and just developing our team within that style of play is big.”

Callender played the second most minutes on the team last year with 1406 minutes on the field. His goal for the season is to send the program off in the right direction before he graduates.

“For me I’ve had three different coaches, I’ve had a lot of different players come and go so for me as a captain, I just want to make the biggest impact I can,” he said. “Not even just on the field, but in terms of leadership and sending the program in the right direction. Kiki is doing some pretty great things with us so the more I can do, and the more Nick and the other fellow seniors and other people in leadership positions can do to put the team in the right direction the happier I’ll be at the end of the season.”

Having had three coaches in as many years, Callender is lucky to have most of the recruiting class that he came to Eastern with still with him on the team.

“I’ve been fortunate enough that the recruiting class that I was recruited into, there were originally ten of us then we lost three, but the seven us that are still here on the team,” he said. “We’re pretty close knit and it’s a great group of guys so I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve handled the transition well enough that I’ve had guys there sticking with me.

Kyle is in the school of Business and has plans to graduate in May.

Four years of being a student athlete here, staying organized and on top of things makes it easier for him to handle the busy schedule.

“In terms of being a student-athlete, I’m actually better with the more I have going on, the better I am at organizing everything just because when I have nothing going on I always feel like if I have so much time I’m just putting things off,” he said. “It’s not as hard as it seems as long as you stay focused.”


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]