From Rio to Berkeley: Cal's Carr Lead's Soccer's Cast of Characters

Oct. 22, 2002

At times, Kevin Grimes must feel like the producer of a Disney movie more than the head coach of the nation's 15th ranked California men's soccer team.

His 10-3-1 team features a roster of Ostriches and Wizards, not to mention the Mad-Hatter, Juice, Fish-Pony, Chevy and Sky Walker.

Among this unique cast of characters - which earlier this season reeled off a school record nine-game winning streak - is Calen Carr, aka 'The Ostrich'. A starting midfielder who leads the team with six assists brings with him some irreplaceable experiences and a loving mother who some day could have the opportunity to fail him as a UC Berkeley student.

Claudia J. Carr, the mother of Calen, is a tenured Environmental Science, Policy and Management professor (ESPM) at Cal. Carr, a Berkeley native, was destined to attend Cal for an undergraduate degree.

'I've spent my whole life around Cal,' said Calen. 'When I was young I would go to Cal sporting events and Cal soccer camps with my mom and meet the players and the coaches. I helped out my mom and passed out diplomas for Conservation and Research Studies.'

Carr's first-hand look at his future college gave him a jump-start on what to expect from the University of California.

'Calen became very close with my students,' said Claudia. 'He grew up with students always at our house. One student even announced to the class that he adopted Calen.'

Despite the close proximity between the two, a mutual agreement was made prior to sending in the acceptance letter that if Calen was to attend a school so close, he would be able to experience life independently. Most importantly to any college student, Calen wanted to live on his own. And to prove that he meant it, he doesn't even take advantage of the opportunity to bring his laundry home, only heading there during school vacations.

'Calen packed to go away to college in 25 minutes,' said his mother, who has attended almost all of her sons' collegiate games. 'He filled up six duffel bags with every earthly possession, lined them up, and was ready. He's very independent.'

'I've never ran into her at campus,' said Carr about his mother. 'I stop by her office to say hi or to study. I know she's there if I need her. People ask me if I'm going to take her classes. I've thought about it, especially recently. At first I thought no way, but it might be cool to see my mom from a college student's perspective and in a different light.'

Carr suffers a small consequence from the situation. 'Students will stop me and tell me how they took my mom's classes, and if they liked it or not. They'll ask why they got an A- instead of an A.' Carr shrugs it off and mentions how a few of his teammates are interested in signing up for her classes in the spring, depending upon conflicts with soccer practice.

Before the Ostrich days - a name he received last fall where he scored a goal against Fresno State and began running around and didn't know exactly what to do, so 'I just kinda flapped around' - Carr trained at the prestigious Zico Futebol Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He ventured off almost 9,000 miles away for an opportunity to learn soccer from the locals. He stayed for a month during the summer of his junior year of high school and lived in a private home.

'The lady I stayed with would leave for long periods of time,' said Carr. 'I would have to figure out how to eat, go the supermarket and use public transportation. There are several funny stories where I'd find myself doing the wrong thing and looking foolish. The locals thought I was Brazilian. I was able to slide under the radar until I had to open my mouth.'

Carr, then 16 years of age, competed against kids mostly two years older than himself. He noted that communication was the hardest part for him, especially on the field, as he did not speak Portuguese and his teammates did not understand English. But the sport of soccer remained universal. He played different types of soccer, including beach soccer and a special Brazilian indoor soccer, Futebol.

While he was in Rio, one of his mother's students - who considered Calen as a little brother - made the trip to Brazil to stay with Carr. It might have been for the opportunity to go to Rio, but maybe a little suggestion from a worried mother advanced the idea.

'I would love to live in the Brazilian culture and use the Portuguese that I learned last year,' said Carr, who has kept in contact with a few people that he met on his trip just in case he decides to return.

When he was in grade school participating in the Cal soccer camps, the first meeting of the Wizard and the Ostrich took place. Little did he know that his enemy in the finals of the Cal Camps would eventually be his teammate, Noah 'the Wizard' Merl. Now the Ostrich and the Wizard combine for a forceful duo on the Cal men's soccer team.

'He beat me one year at championships,' said Carr about Merl. 'He still pulls that card out every once in awhile.'

The duo, along with Juice (Yohei Fukuda), Mad-Hatter (Nick Hatzke), Fish-Pony (Patrick Fisher), Chevy (Troy Roberts) and Sky Walker (Brian Walker) host, the eighth-ranked Stanford Cardinal Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. in Edwards Stadium.

'It's a rivalry that we like,' said Carr about the upcoming Pac-10 match. 'We feel like we have a good shot and match up well. On any game day, anything can happen, especially with the roll that we're on now. We've seen each other play at two tournaments already this year. It's a confidence builder that we measure up well against the same competition.'

The Bears hope to end a seven-game losing streak against the Cardinal on Saturday. The last time Cal defeated Stanford was in 1996.

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