Long-term goals: Moffat County’s Wyatt Nielsen signs with CNCC soccer; 2 Spartan players move to 4-year schools | CraigDailyPress.com

Long-term goals: Moffat County’s Wyatt Nielsen signs with CNCC soccer; 2 Spartan players move to 4-year schools

Moffat County High School senior Wyatt Nielsen stands with parents Mark and Frances and displays Colorado Northwestern Community College gear as part of his signing ceremony Friday to play for the men's soccer team this fall.
Andy Bockelman

The Colorado Northwestern Community College soccer program continues to attract hometown talent.

Moffat County High School senior Wyatt Nielsen signed his letter of intent Friday to join the men’s soccer team this fall.

Wyatt has played the sport all four years at MCHS, his work on defense earning him multiple MVP honors.

Though his senior season was trying due to a hip injury that required surgery, he is ready to get kicking in practices this summer, joining nearly a dozen players who have already signed or recommitted to the team, including fellow Bulldogs Ulises Silva, Luis Tarango and Juan Loya.

“I’m looking forward to expanding my playing, and I’m really looking forward to playing with those guys again,” Wyatt said. “I’m ready for the next big step in my life.”

MCHS coach Rusty Cox noted he will be a great addition to the Spartans team.

“He is a leader on and off the field. He also has such a positive attitude,” Cox said. ” He’s a hard worker and will always to listen to his coaches. He is passionate and creative about soccer. Just an all-around great kid and I am proud of him.”

Wyatt plans to study nursing at CNCC, inspired to work as a healer by the people in his life. In addition to working over the winter with MCHS and Memorial Regional Health trainer Lindsey Short during his recovery from surgery, he also saw the impact nurses had when his mother, Frances, was experiencing health issues.

“Ever since I was a little kid I liked it, and when I would watch nurses draw her blood, stuff like that’s always been interesting to me,” he said.

Frances and Wyatt’s father, Mark, are looking forward to seeing their son on the soccer field for another season.

Mark’s own experience as a coach and college-level player in the sport have him especially excited.

“He had some offers from other schools, but with his mom’s health he chose to play here,” Mark said. “We really want to see him continue.”

The Friday afternoon ceremony inducted Wyatt as a new player but was also a sendoff for two current members of the CNCC program.

Spartan soccer vets Jonathan Marroquin and Logan Hopkins each will be moving on to teams with four-year schools following their time in Craig.

Hopkins, originally from Cañon City, looks to study science at Adams State University in Alamosa.

“One thing I’m looking forward to is playing UCCS (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs) and CSU (Colorado State University) Pueblo, some of my hometown rivals,” he said. “I loved the atmosphere here and being part of the community.”

Marroquin, who has played at CNCC the past two seasons for the full history of the program, will either attend Ottawa University’s Arizona campus or Presentation College in South Dakota, depending on whichever works better for him financially, with a goal of studying psychology and becoming a therapist.

Though the time with a burgeoning program like CNCC was rough on the playing field, he said the experience was nonetheless positive.

“This college backs us up 100 percent,” he said. “It was two difficult seasons, but the coaches never gave up on us, and the school always had our backs.”

The soccer program is still evolving going into its third season, and CNCC is interviewing coaches for the men’s team after Joe Eades’ recent announcement that he would be leaving the program to return to Texas to be with family.

Eades was assistant coach for men’s and women’s teams in 2016 and head men’s coach in 2017, also working as a recruiter during both seasons.

“It’s hit me so fast, but being here from the inception, I’m pretty happy with the work we’ve put in so far and the direction the program’s going, and I really feel like we’ve set a foundation for success,” Eades said. “Being a part of that makes me happy, but I will be sad to leave.”