Soccer Off Season Brings Responsibility, Team Bonding
Players warm up during soccer practice on the SPASH playing fields. (City-Times photo)
By Joel Murillo
Athletes who will play soccer at SPASH have been playing a lot during the summer to prepare for the coming season.
Each summer, Coach Mark Peel appoints captains to lead practices when he is unable to attend. Under high school policies, soccer coaches cannot be involved with off season training and are only given a few days to spend with their future team. Two of these captains are incoming junior Cristian McDonald and senior Jacob McChrystal.
The captains coordinate each practice and direct players through warm-ups, drills, and scrimmages. McChrystal said that the warm-ups this year are specifically designed to prevent ACL (anterior cruciate ligament, located in the knee) injuries.
“Coach thought this (the injury prevention program) would be a good idea so he brought in the trainer and she put together some stretches and printed us out some sheets,: McChrystal said. “We’ve had kids in the past tear their ACL’s- one kid tore both of them.”
Players also practice and hone their skills before playing for during the regular SPASH season. McDonald said extra training had two main benefits.
“The most important thing is getting touches on the ball. The second most important thing is trying to get bigger, stronger, and faster because there are some pretty big guys in high school,” he said.
Though the captain’s practices are held throughout the summer, SPASH soccer season is a change in schedule for the players. The captains’ responsibility is to help players with the transition from summer to fall. McChrystal said that practices and games are much more frequent than those for a summer league player.
“You practice every single day during the week and the games are a lot closer together,” he said. “With SPASH there’s no real recuperation time, you just have to make sure you’re stretching a lot.”
Relationships- building is another aspect of the training. Many of the participants in the captains practices are incoming freshmen, and the early practices help ease the newcomers into high school athletics.
“You’re just talking with your friends who play on the team and you’re bonding without really knowing it, it’s just more of an everyday lifestyle,” McChrystal said.
“You make friends playing soccer and you hang out with them in the off season,” McDonald added.
SPASH begins tryouts on August 10 at 6 a.m. at the PCYS Complex, 701 Badger Avenue. An informational meeting on the fall sports program is being held at 6:30 PM on August 6 at SPASH, 1201 Northpoint Drive.