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Crow Slices a Humble Pie as Sockers Set to Meet Minnesota

May 03, 1985|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — It was the final day of the soccer season. Amador Valley High School fans in the soccer hotbed of Pleasanton had come to see Kevin Crow break the school's goal-scoring record. Early in the second half, the anticipated moment seemingly arrived.

An opposing player tripped Crow in front of the goal, resulting in a penalty kick. No soccer shot is easier to make.

Except Crow declined to take the shot.

"I couldn't believe it," Amador Valley Coach Mike Geib said. "Kevin gave the shot to a kid who was in a slump. That tells you what type of player Kevin was."

Now, Crow is a defender for the Sockers, who begin the Major Indoor Soccer League semifinals Sunday night in the Sports Arena against Minnesota.

Success has not changed Crow. He still tries to be the humble player he was six years ago when he stepped aside for another player at Amador Valley.

"The other player had been in a slump for a month," Crow said. "It's a team sport. I could care less about individual awards. I'm appreciative when I get them, but I'm not in this game for publicity and fame."

Crowe was a prep All-American. He was a second and third-team All-American his final two years at San Diego State. He played for the USA team in the 1984 Olympic Games. And he led the MISL in blocked shots this season.

Crow was a second-round draft choice of the Sockers in 1983. Their first choice was Crow's San Diego State teammate, Kle Kooiman, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lazers. The Sockers had rated both players even, but they took Kooiman first because Tulsa was going to take Kooiman in the first round if he still was available.

Originally, the Sockers offered Crow an amateur contract. They finally settled by paying him $500 a month.

At the time, the Sockers were nearing their second straight indoor championship. They were in need of defenders at the end of the season, but they called on Nico Rohmann instead of Crow.

"To tell you the truth, I was disappointed when they didn't let me play," Crow said. "It cost them a lot of money to bring back Nico Rohmann. They had me for $500 a month."

The Sockers wanted Crow to concentrate on outdoors at the time. And they certainly needed him.

When the Sockers beat Baltimore for the MISL championship in 1982-83, they did not have a break before starting outdoor play. Crow, one of the team's few fresh players, played every minute of every game his first outdoor season.

"Kevin had to play, and he played well," Coach Ron Newman said. "We got off to a 1-10 start or some bloody stupid thing like that, but he was one of our strongest players. That gave him all the confidence in the world."

Soccer players have a tendency of going all-out in practice, sometimes even at the expense of arguing with teammates. But according to teammates, Crow was never one to get in the middle of a team feud.

"I've never been the type to yell at a teammate," Crow said. "You have to rely on your teammates. Everyone makes mistakes. Unless you are flawless, you shouldn't yell at people.

"You can do things in a nice, calm way. I'm the same way with referees. I try to be diplomatic with them and understand their situation. I find that you get more out of them that way."

At times, Crow's diplomacy gets him into trouble with coaches. After Newman called a timeout last week against Kansas City with a four-goal lead and three seconds to play, Crow did not stand up for his coach.

"They'll take that as a rub in their face," Crow said at the time. "I would if I was their team."

A week later, Newman is still miffed by Crow's comment.

"Sometimes, you'd like to see him be more supportive of the team as a whole," Newman said. "Maybe he'll eventually realize that. Maybe he's just young."

Crow, 23, was eight years old when he was encouraged by an older brother to begin playing soccer.

But as a high school freshman, Crow spent a difficult season away from soccer. He was physically unable to play because he had grown seven inches in a year and his bones were not keeping up with his rapid growth. He overcame the problem before his sophomore season.

Crow subsequently played three years for Amador Valley, helping the school set a national record for most consecutive games without a loss (55).

Crow's coach described him as a self-made player.

"What made him different than a lot of high school kids was that he'd practice by himself," Geib said. "He would kick the ball against a wall repeatedly. I'd compare him to a basketball player who would shoot 1,000 times a day on his own."

Soccer was time-consuming for Crow. Even away from the field, he hung out with other players and continually talked about soccer.

If Crow wasn't so humble, he could have talked about personal success. He is Amador Valley's third-leading career scorer, and he still is tied for the goal-scoring record.

College coaches were well aware of Crow during his prep days. He finally chose San Diego State over California because "you could enjoy it" at San Diego State.

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