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THE LAST CRUSADE

By Rene Garcia     2/12/2016

Orange County Catholic Sports League (OCCSL.ORG) is entering its 9th season as a Catholic soccer and sports league. Many teams and players come and go but only a few have gone the distance, playing from the launch of the league in 2006/2007 through to today. This can be said of Jason Traut, one of the few last remaining original players to have joined since the inaugural season.

He joined the Crusaders, one of four teams in the league, that were mostly Brea/Fullerton-based Catholic Parishioners. As an experienced and avid soccer player, he joined not because of the quality of the league, but because it was the first of its kind (Catholic based). He heard about the league and was invited by both Armando Cervantes and Estefania Garcia, both of whom he met while attending a young adult group at St. Angela Merici a few years back.

The league was not always as appealing and organized as it is today. He still remembers the long grass field that was rarely cut, in a middle school in Irvine. He faithfully commuted every Saturday morning from as far as Long Beach to come and see his teammates and to face one of the other three teams that made up the league: L.E.L.O.L.I., St. Thomas and Korean Matyrs.

It was in the winter of 2008 that the league was able to gain support of the Diocese of Orange and gain some residency at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, growing exponentially. That year eight teams joined and the league kept gaining teams from then on, making it more competitive every winter as each season started.

Jason stuck with that same team, the Crusaders, throughout the years, becoming one of the few lynch pins and mainstays in the team. His commitment earned him a winning the Championship twice in suspenseful fashion, all in penalty shootouts. The first victory was in the final against first all Protestant team, Sa-Rang (2009) and later again against San Andrés (2014). Jason was blessed with the name from some of his fellow teammates as “Captain America” for his never giving up attitude and constant dedication towards the team.

At the end of his young adult life and soon to become what the Diocese considers an adult, he is reaching the end of his participation in the league. The league was established for many reasons but one of them is to address the void felt by many young adults in the Catholic Church post-high school/confirmation years. The Diocese of Orange considers the age of a young adult to be between the ages of 18-39. Technically this should be his last season but he just turned 39.

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