COLUMBIA — Friday marked day one on the dream job for Jack Rubenstein. It didn’t go according to plan.
Rubenstein, a longtime Columbia resident, offered instructions from the sidelines as the Rock Bridge girls soccer team lost its season opener — Rubenstein’s head coaching debut — 3-1 to Rolla on Friday afternoon at Rock Bridge.
For Rubenstein, the head coaching gig had been a long time coming.
“I’ve been ready for this position for a while,” Rubenstein said, while being greeted by his wife and young daughter.
A 2003 Rock Bridge graduate, Rubenstein, 27, played soccer for four years at Westminster College in Fulton. After a successful collegiate career that included a Team MVP award in 2005, Rubenstein returned to Rock Bridge as an assistant coach and goalkeeper coach for both the boys and girls teams. He also took the same position with Columbia College’s men's soccer team.
Tied 1-1 13 minutes into the second half, a Bruin shot was fired past Bulldog goalkeeper Katie Hudson and off the crossbar. It deflected down, bouncing very close to the goal line. It appeared the Bruins had taken a 2-1 lead, but play continued. No goal was called.
Rolla scored twice more after Rock Bridge's near miss.
“It doesn’t matter what happened; what matters is the call that was made,” Rubenstein said. “Whether it went in or not, I understand people make mistakes all the time. I make them everyday, everyone does, so whether it was in or out it doesn’t matter, the call was out.”
Despite the season-opening defeat, Rubenstein will not look back at Friday's game negatively.
“One game doesn’t mean anything," he said. "It doesn’t define me as a coach; it doesn’t define my players as a team.”
While coaching the Bruins is a fantasy fulfilled for Rubinstein, it will be a short-lived fantasy.
In June, just weeks after getting the Rock Bridge job, Rubenstein was offered and accepted the head coaching jobs of both the boys and girls soccer teams at Columbia’s Battle High School, which will open in the fall.
In the meantime, Rubenstein is grateful to guide the Bruins for this lone season and is focusing on the job at hand.
“I’m going to put my heart and soul into this team for this season,” Rubenstein said. “It’s a pleasure to be coaching them; it feels like home.”