By John Philip Wyllie
As the third place San Diego Sockers (6-8) move into the middle third of their 36-game schedule trailing the Milwaukee Wave by three games, they are poised to battle for the divisional leadership. Slowed by injuries out of the starting gate, the Sockers look to get healthy and move up the ladder as the season progresses. The expected return of last season’s Rookie of the Year, David Beltran, should help them substantially as they attempt to close on the division leading Wave.
La Prensa caught up with Beltran, one of the team’s Mexican-American stars while he and his teammates were serving Thanksgiving dinner to an estimated 1,600 homeless people at the downtown Rescue Mission.
“I feel like I’m really close to coming back,” said Beltran who has missed all but one of the Sockers 12 matches with a severe abdominal strain. “They don’t want me to come back too early. If I re-injure it, I will probably be out for another month. So, I want to make sure that I am 100% ready to go and come back at full capacity. I want to make an impact.”
Beltran absence from the field hasn’t kept him from making an impact in the community. He was eager to volunteer for the Rescue Mission’s annual Thanksgiving dinner event.
“We did this last year and it was fun. It’s great helping people that are not in a position to help themselves,” Beltran said. “(Participating in an event like this) is no burden, we like to give something back to the community, it’s cool,” Beltran said. Beltran, who starred at Ramona High and later at San Diego State is no stranger to community service.
“I’ve worked at several soccer camps in the East County and in San Marcos and there were a lot of Hispanic kids involved in those,” Beltran said. “Pretty much wherever we go there a lot of Hispanic kids playing soccer. It’s great to be a role model for them and they enjoy coming out to our games and seeing (the guys that have been coaching them) playing for the Sockers.”
As much as he enjoys the community service work that he has been doing, Beltran is eager to return to the field. With the Sockers in a new league with more teams and playing under new rules, the team has had to make some major adjustments.
“The play is much more physical in this league and it is very fast,” Beltran said. “It makes for a quick-paced game.” And unlike traditional outdoor soccer criticized by many for its lack of scoring, this indoor version often features double-digit results that look more like football scores.
The Sockers return to their Sports Arena home tonight for a game with Milwaukee. Tickets (858) 836-4625.