The 9-6-3 record the Dodge City Community College Conquistadors men’s soccer team achieved last year was the first time the team had ended the year with a winning season since the group went 11—5-2 in 2014.

With the team picking up momentum over the last few years, head coach Oscar Zelaya said its developed in part because of what has developed between the coaching and the players.

“I think it’s just mostly in the trust,” Zelaya said. “Not just the kid trusting me but also me trusting the kid.”

In high school, players don’t always have to listen as much, to succeed. At the college level, even at the community college level, it’s a different story.

“Now they have to come into a level which is bigger, which is more developed,” Zelaya said.

High school is a great developmental arena, he said, and it’s good for them, but not all are the same. The high school in Dodge City, Zelaya said, is one that does well.

“The coach here does a great job with them, especially with my local kids by helping them improve (so) that when they get here there’s just a little bit extra that they need help (on),” Zelaya said.

When players from outside Dodge City get here, they first have to get acclimated to Dodge City, then get broken out of their shells so that they start trusting their teammates, the teachers, their coaches and the school.

That’s when a family environment can start to form, Zelaya said, and that’s the most important part: Helping them feel welcome and like those players can be a part of something bigger here.

When that happens, team chemistry starts to naturally form, and that’s what Zelaya said will be important for the team this year.

He also said there should be an element of healthy competitiveness to it, one in which players know they have to fight their spot because the competition is good, and not by talking back and thinking they are the best, but by being willing to do something twice when a competitor can only do it once.

“That’s what I need,” Zelaya said. “If we create that, I think we’ll go far. Really far.”

So far, Zelaya said, the team seems to be a better fit, and he can see that players worked on their game over the summer.

“A lot of players did their job over the summer so that’s gonna help us a lot,” Zelaya said.

The team also returns a lot of sophomores.

“That experience I think is gonna help us a lot too,” Zelaya said.