Eric Calvillo had never been to a prison.
Naturally, as the San Jose Earthquakes midfielder was en route with members of the club to San Quentin State Prison -- a notorious maximum level security correctional facility about an hour north of San Jose -- he was a little nervous.
“Going into it, my guard was up a little bit," Calvillo admitted to MLSsoccer.com on Monday. "At the same time, we had a lot of people going. I talked to a lot of the staff members who had been going for a while, I found it interesting. I wanted to do something new.”
Calvillo, Paul Marie and the staff put inmates through drills as the men went through the paces with smiles. They got to speak with the men, talk soccer and life. The club produced a brilliant six-minute video that is well worth your time (above).
Calvillo came away enlightened, with a fresh perspective.
“It meant a lot," Calvillo said of the experience. "Everyone has their point of view on prisoners and why they’re there. One of them said it very well: Obviously they made their decisions, bad choices, but it doesn’t give anybody the right to judge them because they’re in there for their mistakes. Some of them in there are a great group of men who made bad decisions.
"They were very nice, very helpful. It gave me a new point of view on prisoners.”
It was the third time that members of Quakes have been to San Quentin. The club donated cleats, goalkeeper gloves and training gear.
After drills, Quakes staff and the San Quentin men played a game. Calvillo had to watch from the side, but enjoyed the experience all the same.
“Just to see them laughing and enjoying the game that I love, and they love. I can tell by the way they played," Calvillo said. "No one was even thinking about where we were at, what the whole feeling was. It was just about going out and playing the game that we all love. Watching them and the staff have a great time, everyone is laughing and enjoying themselves, it reminded me of when I was kid, playing for just the fun of it.”
And Calvillo says he is already looking forward to his second trip to a prison.