Building a positive culture: CMS men’s soccer kicks off season using ‘habit tracker’

A young man dribbles around one of his teammates.
CMS men’s soccer players participate in a dribbling drill. (Abbey Liao • The Student Life)

Fresh off its first SCIAC title since 2012, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team is looking to keep its momentum going this season — and part of that is focusing on each player as an individual.

Head coach Ryan Fahey CM ’10 has given each player a “habit tracker,” a small slip of paper on which they note individual long-term goals under three categories: soccer, school and life. Underneath those objectives, players note habits to help achieve them.

Some players, including vice-captain Nate Huntington CM ’21, are already affirming Fahey’s system.

“Coach Fahey pushes us to think about the habits that are going to help us win a national championship,” he said. “Some of those habits include paying attention to the small things and building a positive culture.”

For Huntington, one personal objective is to either score or assist on 15 goals. Some of his habits include dedicating extra time to practice and recovering from his injury.

For captain Samay Rahim CM ’22, the team’s overall success makes the top of the list.

“My main goal is for us to get better game by game and hopefully do better than we did two years ago,” Rahim said. “[I want us to] make a deeper run past the Sweet 16 — getting better every game is how we’re going to do it.”

Last week, the Stags inched out a nail-biting 2-1 victory against Redlands, which was ranked fifth at the time. Harper Rubin CM ’22 netted an unassisted goal at the end of the first half and scored his second via a volley toward the beginning of the second half. 

An experienced veteran, Rubin has displayed impressive midfield play seven games into the season. For his performance against Redlands, he received SCIAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for matches through Sept. 19. 

“This is uncharted territory for me,” he said after the game. “I don’t totally know how to feel, but I’m trying to keep a cool head about it all.”

The Stags are likely to face challenges in their quest to advance.  

Midway through the second half of the game, a Redlands player received a red card for ramming his shoulder into Eric Sanchez CM ’24. The scuffle originally ensued after the two opposing players fell to the turf while competing for the ball.

Even during intense moments, Rahim said, remaining composed is the best way to project leadership.

“Those guys on my team are my brothers, so seeing someone do that makes me want to react,” he said. “But knowing the role that I’m in, it’s important to think about my actions and how they will translate to the rest of the guys on the team.” 

Despite starting 0-1-1, CMS has bounced back by winning its last five matches. Its overall record is 5-1-1; in conference games it improves to 3-0-0.

The Stags have earned a good record so far, but Fahey expects more of himself than just coaching his team to victories. 

“I want to be an educator that lasts longer than just what the game outcomes are,” he said. “I tell my guys four things: try your hardest, never give up, have fun, and help others do the first three.”

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, Rahim and Huntington are grateful for their last season and say they’re soaking in every remaining moment of their college careers.  

“I want to make the most of my last season since I’ve been playing since I was four years old, so it’s a big part of who I am and where I am today,” Rahim said. “I’m looking forward to making it the best [season] that I’ve ever had and the best one we as a team have ever had.”

Huntington, a fifth-year senior, reflected similar sentiments.

“I feel lucky to have this opportunity because everybody in our class other than Harper isn’t here,” he said. “I’m treating it as a privilege.”

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