AKRON – It was an historic soccer season at Tippecanoe Valley. History was made again Thursday as the program’s first official college recruit took his step forward.
Senior Ivan Santiago became the first member of the soccer program – which played in its first IHSAA sanctioned season last fall – to sign collegiately. Santiago, in a ceremony at Tippecanoe Valley High School, has chosen to continue his soccer career at Ancilla College in Donaldson, just west of Plymouth.
“I just felt more comfortable there,” stated Santiago in an interview last Friday. “I talked to my mom about it and she said it’s your decision, do what feel comfortable doing. The environment, the people around there, it’s comfortable there. I know some of the people and have close friends in the program, too, so that helps.”
Santiago was one of the stars of the Vikings’ maiden voyage as an IHSAA member team, finishing second on the team in goals with five, first in assists with seven and first in points with 15.
Santiago had two assists in the team’s first-ever win against Wabash (3-1) and had a goal and assisted on Valley’s first-ever goal in it’s home opener against Maconaquah, a 4-3 loss. Valley went 4-12-1 in 2016 under head coach Mark Gordon.
“It was just a fun year with the team, I’m going to miss it,” Santiago said. “I’m glad I’m going to be going to school close to here because I can come back and watch my old team play. Visit with my friends that will still be here. Visit with my coaches. Watch the program continue to grow.”
The Chargers, a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, had its best season in history in 2016. The team finished 18-2 overall and were champions of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Conference and placed third in the NJCAA national tournament, the highest placing in the program’s history.
The Chargers are coached by Victor Newberg, who took over the program in December after serving as a program assistant.
“Soccer is four words – soccer is my life,” Santiago said with a big smile across his face. “I do it for my family, my dad and I love him the most. He has taught me a lot in life. He said soccer is not just a sport, but a sport you will love forever. It will go on from generation to generation.”