In Recess

From the Pitch to the Courtroom

A San Antonio attorney swaps out business shoes for cleats in his coed soccer league

Interview By Adam Faderewski

When Robert “RC” Pate was 10 years old and living in Corpus Christi, he decided he’d had enough of soccer. He quit. He did other things and life carried on. So Pate didn’t think much about picking up the game again while attending high school. He liked to play. But that seemingly innocuous decision would forever change his life. For it was on the soccer field that Pate met his wife, Pamela, while playing in a coed league. He went on to become a criminal defense and DWI attorney in San Antonio, and the couple had a daughter, Athena, whom Pate coached, along with her soccer team, for a season. When he gets a spare moment, Pate still plays coed soccer with Pamela. He didn’t realize what an impact his decision to return to soccer would make when he was in high school, but that decision is clear to day.

Soccer Field

What positions do you play?
I play everywhere. I’m not a very good goalkeeper. I’m probably best at midfield. I’m one of those people who does not have a set position—I play the position that nobody showed up for that week.

How long have you been playing in the coed league?
Probably eight years now.

How often do you play games?
There are three seasons—the fall, spring, and summer— and a couple of weeks off between each one depending on how many rainouts we’ve had. Generally speaking, it’s a game every weekend.

Have you gone to the playoffs or won a championship?
They only keep standings for the fall season; the others are just to keep in shape. If you win the fall season, you don’t have to pay the entrance to the state tournament, which is held usually in April or May, and we have done that for each of the past four years.

Have you had any experience coaching?
I coached my daughter’s soccer team for one year, and for about three seasons before that, I coached a team of low-income kids in San Antonio. Unfortunately, it’s true that all kids sports now are becoming big business as opposed to dads going out hitting T-Ball. The United States Soccer Federation has regional tryouts, then larger regional tryouts, and then national tryouts. Several kids I have coached over the years have made the regional team. There are only about 20 kids from Central Texas who make that team for each age group.

Are there any other sports that you participate in?
The Austin Sports and Social Club, and then a branch in San Antonio offered coed sports like kickball, softball, and flag football. I have done the majority of those, but soccer is the one I stick with mostly because I convinced my now wife that she should let me play on her team. That was before she ever would have considered me as a romantic interest. So you know, small steps in the right direction.

What was it that got you interested in practicing law?
That’s kind of a long story. I wanted to be in a band after college. My dad said he wouldn’t make fun of that choice if I took the LSAT (a promise he did not live up to, by the way). I took it and did well—probably because I was much less nervous about the test. I wasn’t going to law school after all. Then the band broke up, and I applied for a variety of teaching positions. My dad once again encouraged me to apply to the University of Houston Law Center. Teach For America had too many applicants at the time. The Region 20 emergency certification people said I couldn’t apply because I didn’t take the TASP Test in high school (long story there too). I found out I got into law school on the day they told me to wait another year. I didn’t want to wait, so here I am.

How do you think your law practice relates to your experiences on the soccer field?
I suppose as a criminal defense lawyer it helps to never give up. You can always score another right at the end of the game. Keep your head down and work hard and hope that effort pays off. TBJ

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