Rebel Athlete Of The Week Feature
Mota's Defense and Experience Will Help Guide the Rebels this Season
Sage Sammons, UNLV Athletics Media RelationsSept. 7, 2011
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Leaders come in all shapes and forms. They can lead through their voice or they can lead by example. Sometimes being a leader is not a choice, but a responsibility to a group to achieve a potentially greater good.
Junior defender Mike Mota has all of the facets and more of being a potential leader for the UNLV men's soccer program.
"I think Mike's leadership role has changed quite a bit," said head coach Rich Ryerson. "We are depending on him to communicate what we want to our back four players and help the goalkeeper and his confidence."
Mota proved himself a year ago not only by his abilities on the field, but how he was able to persevere the difficult situations that the program faced away from the pitch.
"2010 was a breakout year for him," said Ryerson. "I think he was able to do a lot of things as a sophomore in difficult situations, obviously with the state of the program and things like that, I think he stepped up and that was big for us. Beyond that, he played extremely well in conference play. It was good year for him and it got his name on the map as far as making a honorable mention on the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation team, now we just need to take it one step further."
As a team, though, the Rebels didn't achieve the same accolades that Mota did.
"We had our ups and downs last season," said Mota. "We weren't a very consistent team. We won big games but then we lost some games we probably should have won. It was definitely a psychological thing."
Overcoming the psychological aspects takes maturity and experience. Mota believes the team has grown this offseason and he has the confidence not only in himself, but also in his teammates to achieve some high goals this season.
"I have pretty high expectations for this season," said Mota. "We have the ability to win our conference and go into the NCAA Tournament, which hasn't been done since 1988. I think that is definitely achievable."
Away from the pitch, Mota is a laid back guy who enjoys the simple things in life.
"I just really like to relax away from the soccer field," said Mota. "I don't go out too much. I like to sit at home, watch movies and play video games. I like doing the simple things outside of school and soccer."
"He is pretty quiet," said Ryerson. "But he is a big fan of Real Madrid. He wears their stuff loud and proud around campus. I think that's the special thing about him is his passion for Real Madrid of Spain."
Mota and the Rebels are returning home from a road trip where they went 1-1 over the weekend. Mota scored the first goal of the Rebels season against Cal State Northridge and also recorded an assist. His production earned him a spot on the 2011 Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic All-Tournament Team along with teammates Jonny Espinoza and Salvador Bernal. The Rebels will host the UNLV Nike Invitational starting on Friday and will face San Francisco and Green Bay over the weekend.