A former team captain and defensive standout for the Northwest College men’s soccer team will continue his playing career next season in his home state of South Dakota.
Edgar Meza, known during his two seasons roaming the pitch as a Trapper for his dynamic defense and infectious grin, has signed to play for Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota. A native of Spearfish, Meza said he’s excited to return home to finish his collegiate career. He’ll major in Wildlife Management with an eye toward one day becoming a game warden; that DWU offered the program was instrumental in his decision to become a Tiger.
“I studied natural resource biology here at Northwest, and it correlates well with the program at Mitchell,” he explained. “A lot of my credits transferred, so that was a big deal for me.”
Growing up in Spearfish, soccer was a constant in Meza’s life for as long as he can remember. He started playing competitively about 10 years ago, first at the club level with the Rushmore Soccer Club and the Black Hills Rapids, then up through high school. A three-sport athlete, Meza was an All-State selection and won a South Dakota Class A state soccer title his senior year as a member of the Spearfish High School team. Named Defensive Player of the Game for his efforts in the state championship, Meza credits his father for instilling in him a love for the game at an early age.
“It was my dad that got me into soccer; he played when he was my age in Mexico,” Meza said. “I fell in love with the sport by watching it, and then by playing it. I just couldn’t imagine not playing it as I got older.”
Meza was recruited out of high school by former NWC head coach Rob Hill, though he never played for Hill; Stan Rodrigues coached Meza during his freshman campaign, and Bobby Peters headed up the Trappers last season. Meza called playing for two different coaches “an interesting experience,” and he found success with both. The Trappers made the playoffs both of his years, coming within a win of the Region IX title game last season.
“I got the chance to be coached by two different coaches with different coaching styles,” Meza said, adding, “My time at Northwest was great, I really enjoyed it.”
Powell High School head boys’ soccer coach Dave Gilliatt, an assistant under Hill, Rodrigues and Peters at NWC, remembers the first day Meza showed up for practice at Trapper Field.
“He had a big grin, seemed happy to be there and was in no way soft or out of shape,” Gilliatt recalled. “I immediately thought, ‘This kid either wrestled or has worked on a farm his whole life ... must be that kid from South Dakota Rob [Hill] mentioned.’”
Gilliatt praised Meza’s work ethic and coachability, saying his election as a team captain last season was well-deserved.
“Edgar [Meza] has been an ideal Northwest Trapper,” he said. “He gives 100 percent and always holds himself and those around him to a high standard. Guys follow him because he practices what he preaches, and they know he comes from a good place and has good intentions. It was my pleasure to coach him.”
DWU head men’s coach Jose Lopez said it was exactly the reasons Gilliatt mentioned that he decided Meza would be a good fit for the Tigers.
“I recruited Edgar [Meza] because he brings passion, experience and the love to keep on learning on and off the field,” Lopez said. “As an individual, he brings an important value that most college students don’t have, which is perseverance. I’m excited to get things rolling with Edgar.”
As for what he’ll miss about NWC, Meza said the community and the atmosphere top the list.
“The connections, the friendly connections that we had with the people here, I’ll really miss,” he said. “The teachers, the people of Powell, everyone has just been really supportive. I really enjoyed that.”
That said, he’s excited for the opportunity to play at a higher level at DWU.
“I had talked to my high school coach before going to Northwest, and he told me that a lot of people who go on to play in college play maybe one or two seasons before it gets to be too busy with school, and life, and they just drop it and move on,” he said. “I plan on playing college soccer for two more years at Wesleyan, and then whatever happens from there, we’ll just have to wait and see.”