While leading the respective Lufkin soccer programs, Antonio Encarnacion and Russell Shaw would spend time on the bus sharing conversations on how to spread the game of soccer across East Texas.
Shaw has done his part by leading the Panthers to their only state title on the soccer field, while Encarnacion has led a successful girls’ program with several of those players earning college scholarships.
Now they are starting another venture in providing a place for players, fans and parents to find their latest soccer gear as a part of the group that recently opened Gldn Gol.
“When we were riding the bus back home on late nights, we would talk about bringing more soccer gear and equipment for people to find in Lufkin,” Shaw, the former boys soccer coach, said. “We’ve never really had a store specifically for soccer around here. This was our chance to do something like this.”
Encarnacion and Shaw are running the store along with their wives Annalorena Rodriguez and Sharon Shaw, and Oscar Encarnacion.
It opened just in time for soccer season on Aug. 17 and had its open house this weekend.
For much of the past decade, Lufkin teams have competed predominantly against Houston-area squads in district action. They’d like for local soccer fans to not have to make that same trip to get their soccer supplies.
“We’ve talked to the Angelina Youth Soccer Association and the Shelby Youth Soccer Association in Center to kind of get the word out about the soccer store,” Encarnacion, who is also the Lady Panthers’ head coach, said. “Instead of having to travel to places like Houston or Dallas, we want to give them the option to shop here locally. If we don’t have what they want here, then we can order it for them.”
The store is in the Chestnut Village Shopping Center.
It features the basics of soccer balls, shoes and shin guards, along with goalkeeper and coaches’ equipment. They also feature soccer masks, which fans can use to show support of their teams.
In addition to a variety of designs, several NFL teams are represented on the masks.
As those who have been on the soccer sidelines for the better part of the last three decades, they are equipped with helping soccer newcomers find exactly what they need for their respective seasons.
“We’ve got an idea of what the players need and what they’re looking for,” Encarnacion said. “If they’re looking for something soccer-related, they can find it here.”
There are also TVs in the front and back of the store so fans can keep up with their favorite soccer teams from around the world while shopping for their latest gear.
“My goal since I started coaching back in 1986 was to help soccer keep growing,” Shaw said. “It’s nice to see how far the sport has come and to see that it’s still growing.
The store is open Mondays through Thursdays from 4:30-8:30 p.m. It is also open from 4:30-6 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays. The store is closed on Sundays.
“We want to help anybody from the crazy fans to kids who are just starting the game,” Encarnacion said. “We want to help provide the community a service for soccer lovers.”