2018 WCC HOH Inductee: Cameron Rast, Santa Clara
WCC Columnist John Crumpacker profiles the Bronco two-time First Team All-American
By John Crumpacker, #WCChoops Columnist
Leading up to the 2018 West Coast Conference Hall of Honor induction ceremony Saturday, March 3 at the Orleans Casino Resort, WCC Columnist John Crumpacker is profiling each inductee. Today’s profile focuses former on Santa Clara soccer All-American Cam Rast.
When Cameron Rast took his official recruiting visit to Santa Clara in 1988 as one of the best prep soccer players in the country, he liked the look and feel of the campus so much he never left.
Thirty years on, Rast is still at the Mission campus, for the last 16 years as head coach of the Broncos’ men’s soccer team.
“I’m very blessed to have been here … all of my adult life,’’ Rast said. “I think I got lucky. Academically, it was a much better fit for me (than the larger schools). I loved the small class size and the interaction with professors, getting to know quality people on campus. As far as the soccer side, for me it was exactly what I could have hoped for.’’
During his four years as a student-athlete from 1988-92, Rast developed into one of the greatest men’s soccer players in Santa Clara history as a sweeper, on par with women’s star Brandy Chastain -- minus the legendary status.
The Broncos were 57-4-11 with Rast on the field and appeared in two NCAA championship games, drawing with Virginia in ’89 after four overtimes to claim a share of the title and losing to the Cavaliers on penalty kicks in ’91. He was named an All-American for those two seasons and is the school’s only two-time All-American.
For those accomplishments and more, Santa Clara nominated Rast for induction in the West Coast Conference Hall of Honor for 2018. Rast and the other nine members of the Hall of Honor class will be celebrated on March 3 in conjunction with the WCC basketball tournament in Las Vegas.
“It was a Friday afternoon. I got called into my boss’ office,’’ Rast said, referring to SCU athletic director Renee Baumgartner. “She said, ‘I think you’ll deal with this news well.’’’
The AD then told him he would soon be inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor.
“I was surprised and very humbled to be considered for such an honor,’’ Rast said.
As he rattled off the names of the people he’ll have with him at his table for the Hall of Honor ceremony, Rast paused and said, “There’ll be some spillover.’’
Sitting with him at what will be a full table will be his wife Mindy and their two sons, Jake and Timmy; his identical twin brother Matt (also a former Santa Clara soccer player); his mother, father and stepmother; and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their children.
Having his twin brother on the team made Rast’s experience at Santa Clara even more meaningful.
“We chose to go to school together,’’ he said. “It was a good fit for us. We always had a great friendship and bond that only grew in college. On the soccer side, I was challenged and pushed, and I wanted to rise up and meet it. It was extraordinary for us.’’
Rast grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley, where he developed into one of the country’s best prep soccer players at Royal High School. National powers UCLA and Virginia recruited him along with the Broncos and then-coach Steve Sampson. As noted above, once he arrived on the Santa Clara campus, Rast never left.
“My official visit here was what decided it for me,’’ he said. “The staff I had known through some Olympic development experiences. I knew a lot of the guys they were considering bringing in. They were guys I felt confident spending time with. It definitely had that collegiate feel. I could just see myself at Santa Clara more than the other places.’’
After his playing career at Santa Clara was over, Rast was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the ’91 Pan American Games in Havana. A year later, he was captain of the U.S. team for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
In his role as captain, Rast’s teammates implored him to convince U.S. Olympic coach Lothar Osiander to let them march in the Opening Ceremony instead of rest their legs for the next match. The coach relented.
“It’s maybe the only time any of us will walk in the Opening Ceremony,’’ Rast said. “It was a thrill. We walked in with some of the Dream Team guys (Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, et al). We saw Carl Lewis. You got a sense of the majesty of it.’’
After Barcelona, Rast went back to – where else? – Santa Clara as an assistant coach. He spent eight years in that capacity before being named head coach in 2002. He has a career record of 164-126-48 leading the Broncos and has been named WCC Coach of the Year five times.
“I’ve been blessed to work here,’’ he said. “Any time you’re at your alma mater, there’s a lot of responsibility and pride in what you do.’’
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.