If soccer cleats ever made their way into Patrick Acosta’s hockey bag on accident, or if he ever showed up to a soccer game with a hockey stick, he would probably be forgiven.
The Santa Monica High School alumnus has gone back and forth between both sports for years, finding ways to weave the skills he’s developed through each pursuit into the other.
“They really play off of each other,” he said. “The games are very similar in the sense that you pass the ball or pass the puck and fill the next lane.”
Acosta is currently filling the next lane of his athletic career, participating on the UCLA men’s hockey team after playing on the Santa Monica College men’s soccer team.
Last month, Acosta and his Bruins teammates faced rival USC on the ice following a Los Angeles Kings game at Staples Center, earning a 4-3 victory. Their season runs into February.
For Acosta, the UCLA hockey team is the latest stop on a journey that began when he was a young boy. His parents introduced him to a wide variety of sports, and it helped that his father coached hockey and soccer as well as basketball.
“He basically put me and my brother and my sister into every recreational sport,” Acosta said. “I really took off and ran with soccer and hockey.”
A Santa Monica native who attended elementary and middle school in Culver City, Acosta went to Samohi and graduated in 2011. He initially planned on playing more soccer during his time in high school, but he instead immersed himself in hockey through the Long Beach Bombers, a junior team in the Western States Hockey League.
“I was in and out of town every weekend for that,” he said.
But by the time he received offers to play hockey at the collegiate level, Acosta said, he had already made up his mind to take classes SMC to prepare for his future beyond athletics.
Sports didn’t fade for long, though. Acosta arrived at the local community college just as it was relaunching its men’s soccer program after a hiatus of nearly a decade, so he decided to try out for the team.
Acosta ended up playing mostly as a goalkeeper even though he had more experience at forward. During the 2014 season, he got a chance to retake his old position against Allan Hancock College and scored a goal in the Corsairs’ 5-1 win.
“I took one shot and buried it,” he said.
Away from the field, Acosta started thinking about a potential career, taking the necessary courses to earn associate’s degrees in liberal arts and public policy. He recently transferred to UCLA as a history major and expects to add a minor in urban planning. Interested in public works management, Acosta has served as an administrative intern for the City of Santa Monica since June 2014.
During his first quarter at UCLA, Acosta started training with the men’s soccer team. Entering his second term, he’s focused on his commitments to the hockey club, which competes in the Pacific 8 Intercollegiate Hockey Conference. The team typically plays a few games and hosts two practices each week.
“It’s great team camaraderie,” he said. “And it helps with school because it forces you to manage your time, be organized and pursue other things. … I’m learning on the way.”