Carrying the torch

Carrying the torch

Engineering management graduate Bob Zdvorak with his sons David, (right) a senior, and Chris, (left) a freshman — both second-generation Miner soccer players. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Once a wing defender in the early days of Miner soccer, Bob Zdvorak is back in the Missouri S&T soccer complex – this time in the stands cheering on his sons, who are the first second-generation players in the history of the program.

Zdvorak, a 1986 engineering management graduate, is a regular at Missouri S&T soccer matches. Sons David, a senior in civil engineering, and Chris, a freshman in engineering, have been playing competitive soccer since age 6.

“My dad never put any pressure on me to choose Missouri S&T,” David says. “I came to Missouri S&T to become an engineer because I wanted to challenge myself and perform at a high level. I also came because I thought the quality of soccer was high and matched what I was looking for.”

“My dad would tell me stories on how he played very hard but would rarely receive yellow cards,” Chris says. “His stories really help me to appreciate the memories I am making right now and want to make for the future.”

All three Zdvoraks played roles in the success of the program. As a defender, Bob helped the defensive unit record 16 shutouts in three years. David’s four goals include the only goal scored in the Miners’ first-ever win at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in September. Chris played in over half of his freshman season games.

“Every single day is a challenge at this institution,” David says. “If you don’t play well a few days in practice, you don’t feel good because of the pressure you are under by the other guys on the team. Tests, grades and job interviews all follow this pattern. Playing soccer here at S&T has taught me to live my life under pressure and competition through successes and failures, which I feel will help me in the work force following graduation.”

Playing in a competitive league like the Great Lakes Valley Conference while trying to meet Missouri S&T’s academic demands is a challenge, but the brothers say it has prepared them well for the future.

“Academics and the level of soccer were huge influences on my decision to come to Missouri S&T,” says Chris. “I knew that if I could take care of academics and be successful in the soccer program at Missouri S&T, that life would be a lot easier. Having to focus on academics and soccer has proven to be challenging already but not unmanageable. The soccer team is very supportive with your performance on the field as well as in the classroom.”

Now a senior, David hopes to be remembered as a positive influence on the program.

“This is why I bring seriousness and hard work every day I show up to Gale Bullman,” David says. “I want my teammates and coaches to remember how much I loved this game, and to build lifelong bonds through this. I would like to be remembered as someone who was involved in some exciting play on the field, and some memorable goals, assists and wins.”

by John Kean