SAN ANTONIO -- It was one of the most expensive lunches in the team’s history, when you factor in all the electronic gadgets and personal items that were stolen from rented vans while the players ate.
“We lost 15 computers. On the computers was all their work. Classes and next week, we start finals I think on Wednesday ... clothes, wallet, I-this, I-that, everything.” said Jay Martin, head soccer coach for Ohio Wesleyan University.
His team had just gotten off a plane and had not even checked into a hotel when the theft occurred in the 900 block of East Basse Road.
Thousands of dollars in computers, cell phones, wallets, cash and clothes were stolen when thieves broke into two of the vans. In all, police said 20 college athletes were victimized.
So, how did the Ohio Wesleyan men’s college soccer team react to being ripped off?
They gave a little more of themselves. On the eve of the NCAA championships, the players held a soccer clinic for some of the sport’s biggest fans.
“Daniel, Daniel, Daniel!” the cry goes up for one of Sam Houston High School’s special needs students. More than a dozen students took to the Starr Soccer Complex’s soccer fields to interact with OWU's soccer team and take turns as goalkeeper and striker.
“It helps them spiritually. It helps them emotionally,” said Annette Jones, the team's chaperon. "And when we get back to school it even helps them academically, because they’re more inclined to work to get things done.”
The athletes, many of them wearing borrowed cleats and sneakers, cheered the high school students on with high fives and chants of praise.
Their stuff may be stolen, but their spirit is intact.
Jones said that enthusiasm is contagious. It's the stuff of champions, no matter what the competition brings this weekend for OWU.
“As you can see, they’re still full of high-spirits and they’re working with our students and they are awesome," she said. "And they’re going to be winners anyway.”
OWU takes the field Friday at 5:30 p.m. for a semi-final game. Ohio Wesleyan University officials are flying in Thursday with extra game jerseys and items to replace those that were stolen.
San Antonio police said the theft is still under investigation.