COLUMBIA — Four years, eight starts, two goals and one assist. At a glance, that is senior Jimmy Stranz’s career at Columbia College. Yet for Stranz, who has only played in three halves this year, being a Cougar has meant more than playing time.
Stranz, a midfielder for the Columbia College men’s soccer team, has been at almost every game and practice for the Cougars since 2004. However, Stranz has never received significant playing time, something that has bothered, but not stoppedhim.
“I take great pride for staying on this team,” Stranz said. “It is a sense of accomplishment for me to be on the Columbia College men’s soccer team.”
For the last four years, Stranz has done every sprint, push-up and workout that his fellow teammates have done, but watches every game just like the fans who sit in the bleachers on the opposite sideline.
“I know it has been tough on him,” teammate Nick Kelly said, “but he has such a love for the sport that I think he just couldn’t give it up.”
Stranz usually gets in a game during blowouts, for clean-up duty. He has played the role of spectator more than midfielder for most of his time in a Cougar uniform. He admits it eats away at him inside.
“You see your team playing,” Stranz said, “and wish you could have that chance to help. It is the hardest part to think you can help and not get the opportunity.”
Yet even after getting constantly passed over for playing time and continually watching new recruits come in at his position, Stranz has never seriously thought of quitting or transferring.
“Both entered my mind a little during my sophomore year,” Stranz said, “but I love this school, my teammates and this game too much to let it go.”
Stranz attributes his dedication and pride as the reasons why he has put himself through physical practices, grueling workouts and constant running regiments throughout the year.
“I don’t want to look at myself and see a quitter,” Stranz said. “I do this for myself, so I can keep my chin up.”
He doesn’t feel sorry for himself nor does he complain to teammates or coaches about the amount of his playing time. For Stranz, what matters is not what is best for him, but what is best for the team.
“I have always thought about the team before myself,” said Stranz.
Stranz, who doesn’t have the footwork to snake through defenders, or the speed to race past an opponent, makes up for his lack of skill with his attitude.
“He keeps going through it all,” teammate Jordan Cox said, “and does the best he can. He never gives up.”
Stranz’s father, who was his high school soccer coach, taught him how to play with heart. According to Stranz, his dad pushed his soccer teams to never let up against an opponent, even if they had better talent.
“He would repeatedly say ‘Heart will always beat talent,’” said Stranz.
The roles Stranz plays for the Cougars are not the kind that will win him post-season accolades or give him campus wide fame, but that will help his team win.
“Jimmy brings a lot to the team,” Cox said. “He pumps us up before and during games or practices. He just keeps the team going.”
Stranz has earned respect by putting the team before himself, something his teammates admire.
“His commitment to this team is unbelievable,” Kelly said.