TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – For the first time in both Sean and Amy Helliwell’s tenure, members of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology men’s and women’s soccer teams will compete on an international stage starting next week.
Both Helliwells will serve as coaches for the USA D-3 Soccer Select Team Brazil Tour, set for May 27-June 6. The two teams – men’s and women’s – will feature a combined 32 players from NCAA Division III programs from across the country. The teams, traveling as part of the USA Sports Tours & Events company, will play four games each against various teams from the soccer-loving country of Brazil, which is set to host the much anticipated 2014 FIFA World Cup beginning June 12.
Sean Helliwell, the seventh-year coach of the Fightin’ Engineers men’s squad, is set to serve as the head coach of the D-3 USA Men’s Team, while wife Amy Helliwell, the sixth-year coach of the RHIT women’s team, will serve as an assistant for both the men and women’s D-3 USA squads.
“With the World Cup coming right after we go, there’s going to be a lot of excitement,” Sean Helliwell said of the trip, which will feature four of his players from the 2013 Rose-Hulman team that captured the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title and advanced as far as the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen.
Junior goalkeeper Drew Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio/Bishop Fenwick), sophomore defender Mike Smyser (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern), freshman defender Nick Kowalkowski (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln Way) and freshman midfielder Brad Rostron (Westlake, Texas/Southlake Carroll) will all travel as part of the 16-player men’s squad, which also features HCAC players from Anderson and Hanover.
On the women’s side, 2013 HCAC Defensive Player of the Year Lucinda Combs (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) will serve as Team USA’s keeper and RHIT’s lone representative on a squad that features four players from HCAC champion Hanover.
The teams will first travel to Orlando, Fla., for two days of practice before taking off for Sao Paulo, Brazil, with their first matches slated for Thursday, May 29 against Jundiai. Friday, Saturday, and Monday will serve as match days against the likes of Valinhos, Campinas and Botafogo, with the opportunity to take in a professional soccer game on Sunday, June 1.
While Sean Helliwell admits the competition is sure to be elite – “whoever we’re playing in Brazil will be a challenge,” he said – the USA teams will get the rare chance to become teammates with those they consider opponents for much of their college careers.
“At each hotel, the players will always have a different roommate,” Amy Helliwell said of the trip, which will feature four different lodging accommodations. “This, along with the chance to work together on the field, gives them a unique bonding experience they might not be able to get elsewhere.”
Hanover College head women’s coach Jim Watts will serve as the head coach for the USA women’s squad, which also features players from New York University, Arcadia, Springfield College, Middlebury, Lesley, Saint Benedict, Saint Norbert, and Dickinson.
On the men’s side, other schools represented include Misericordia, Texas-Dallas, Ferrum, Emory, Wells College, Saint John’s, Luther, Albion and Wisconsin-Superior.