SAN DIEGO - After an arduous day of work, Culinary Specialist Seaman Santiago Rodriguez, a San Ramón, Costa Rica native, found himself searching for a new activity to do with his free time.
One day while he was working in the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer's (LHD 4) galley, a co-worker approached him and asked if he wanted to play soccer.
The Boxer soccer team was in need of players and Rodriguez was ecstatic for an opportunity to be part of the lineup. For Rodriguez, soccer is not just a sport; it's a tradition filled with rich history and it reminds him of home.
"Soccer is a very popular sport in my country and as a kid growing up it was one of my favorite games to play," said Rodriguez. "I am a big fan of soccer and what I enjoy most is the comradeship between the others players."
For Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class (SW/AW) Jose Flores, assigned to Boxer's deck department, the soccer field is a place where he can decompress after a hard day at work.
"On the field I can let loose and just focus on the game," said Flores. "It's a way to stay fit and [an] outlet to let off built-up aggression."
The soccer team was sponsored by Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) which provided Sailors with jerseys, and prizes. Boxer Sailors played against 11 other teams, made up of active duty Sailors from various commands around the San Diego area. Everyone who participated shared a true passion for the game.
Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW) William Campbell said playing on this team enhanced morale by giving the Sailors something to do outside of work.
"What I enjoy most about soccer is the fact that everybody on the field plays an important role, like in the Navy," Campbell said. "It may be a minor roll, or a major roll, but nevertheless, it's crucial to accomplishing the end goal. Soccer also introduced me to other Sailors on board that I probably wouldn't have met, this brought us together. It was a great team to be part of, and we had a good season."
Boxer's soccer team came in second place after fighting for the championship title against "Galaxy." Galaxy's team included service members from different squadrons at Naval Air Station North Island.
Although the games are over and the season draws to a close, Rodriguez and his shipmates all scored newfound friendships that will continue both on and off the field.