PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- In a demonstration of the growing partnership between Presidio and neighboring Cal State Monterey Bay, the university hosted Military Appreciation Day during their men's and women's NCAA Division II Soccer matchup against Cal State Los Angeles, Oct. 18.

Service members, veterans, DoD civilians and their families were admitted free of charge and provided a complimentary meal at the Otter Sports Complex as division rivals battled and entertained during two high-caliber, competitive soccer games.

A pre-game ceremony was held in which "Otter Pups" from the Presidio's youth center stood side by side with the CSUMB men's team while the national anthem was performed by Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's Joint Service Choir and DLIFLC's Honorary Joint Service Color Guard paraded the colors.

It made an impact on the CSUMB players according to Rob Cummings, head coach of the Otter's Men's Soccer Team.

"Our guys understood that today was a little different," Cummings said. "There was a little more excitement with the color guard and the national anthem, and our goal today was just 'hey, make em proud.'"

Shuttles between Presidio and CSUMB were provided by the Presidio's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to allow service members an opportunity to get off post and watch the game.

One such service member who took advantage of this was DLIFLC student Airman 1st Class Levi Lockling, 517th Training Group.

"I appreciate this opportunity. This was a fun, free event," Lockling said. "Learning a foreign language in such a short time is a difficult thing, you need to get out every once in a while and might as well have some fun and watch some quality sports."

Quality was what CSUMB's soccer program delivered.

Capt. Kevin Bertelsen, commander Naval Support Activities Monterey, conducted the coin toss that started a dramatic contest in which CSUMB men's team, playing a man down due to penalties, tied the game with three seconds left only to lose 1-2 in sudden death overtime.

"It was a tough game and credit goes to CSULA. They are a very good team, but we can walk away with our heads up," Cummings said. "The boys played hard and that's all I can ask of them."

The women Otters won their game 2-1.

In a show of military pride, both teams wore special camouflage practice jerseys before their games.

"We got these at our orientation from our athletic director Kirby Garry," Cummings said of the jerseys. "All the players were ecstatic to hear that we were going to have a military appreciation day and partner up with the military. They love the camouflage and to be able wear them today here with the military and the first responders really makes it special because we are able to do what we do based on what they do for us. They allow us to play our game."

The Presidio of Monterey Fire Department was present at the game with a fire engine that flew a CSUMB flag from its extended ladder.

The event demonstrated a growing partnership developing between the university, located on land once belonging to the historic Fort Ord Army post, and the Presidio.

"In the springtime we have been invited to go over (to Presidio) and do a little bit of their training. They have people over there that are the same age as our players and what they are doing and what they are preparing for is different from what we are doing and preparing for but there are a lot of similarities. So it is an opportunity to learn from each other a little bit in respect of what we do," Cummings said. "Our players really enjoy and embrace this and it is something that I really want us to continue to do not just today. We try to embody the same things; work hard and understand that we come in as a family and we leave as a family. And then there is discipline, you don't succeed without the discipline. We don't try and teach our players this just for the game, but for life, and ten years later when they are out of here and looking back at their time at CSUMB."

For those who were unable to attend, Cummings wants people to know that their season isn't over yet and there is also next year.

"I hope that next year it just gets bigger and we have twice as many people out here," Cummings said. "We are part of the best division in the nation for Division II Soccer. It's a very exciting brand of soccer here and I think that for the military people that have a love for the game or a soccer background that if they come out and watch a game they are not going to be disappointed. They should take a look. I think they'd like what they see."

You can read more about the CSUMB and Presidio of Monterey partnership here at tiny.cc/xw1r4x