By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
Whether or not a team has won or lost every game, the journey for improvement is never ending. The girls soccer team at Washington High School can only improve.
Hard work is required for improvement.
?I think they want to work hard for each other and work hard for the team,? Washington head coach Kyle Collins said. ?That?s the number one thing, you have to work hard.?
The Demons went winless in 14 matches last year and scored eight goals total.
?We had a lot of chances,? Collins said. ?We will work a lot more on finishing around the goal. That is something we are working on this year. We have to finish. We have to get that final touch to put it in the net.?
A team can?t focus solely on scoring, however.
?It?s not all offense because you just have to be able to transition from defense and midfield to offense and then back. A team can?t just focus on attacking.?
Losing a match 10-0 or 15-5 is still a loss by 10 goals.
Collins has been the coach for eight years. He works at a production plant in Wayland, but soccer is a passion.
?I love soccer,? Collins said. ?I played all growing up. I played in the YMCA leagues in Burlington when I was little.?
He has taken the passion and shared it.
?I enjoy it,? he said. ?I like taking girls that have experience or even ones that don?t have experience and make them better and mold them into a team. I like to have a fun time while we are doing that.?
The Demons started a coed team when he was a senior at Washington. He graduated in 2005.
?That was the only time I got to play on a high school team,? he said
Although it is fun, the game requires hard work and that starts in the preseason.
?We have to get the girls involved and get them out there,? Collins said. ?We have to make it so they want to be out there. Once the season gets here, they are ready to work. That and they have to want it. I have seen them work. They want to play.?
There are some players coming into the program that obviously want to play.
?This is one of the biggest freshman years we have had,? Collins said.
?Hopefully that means success in the future. These are kids who would?ve grown up playing in local youth leagues and soccer clubs. Now they are finally getting in the high school and we have to get them adapted to playing on the varsity level. It is so good to see that the young ones are starting to come in and wanting to play soccer.?
This year?s Demons will be very young. There are only two seniors on the team ? Alexis Edwards and Jessica Hora.
?It?s hard to say who?s going to step up for us,? Collins said. ?Those two are very different. One of them is very vocal and outspoken and one of them is not. One leads by example and one leads very vocally.?
Collins has three athletes who will run track and play soccer.
?We work together with the track coaches,? Collins said. ?The kids go over there for a while and then they come over here. By that time, we?re doing a full team exercise. Before that we will break it down into separate things and work on individual skills.?
?I think it is really awesome we have girls dedicated enough to do both,? assistant coach Callyn Mason said.
Participating in track can only help a soccer player when they take the pitch.
?You have to be in shape for soccer and with track you are doing a lot of running,? Collins said. ?I tell the kids it?s not about sprinting the whole time. You have to maintain a nice easy pace and then sprint here or sprint there, take a break here or there. It?s just a constant job of planning where and when to expend one?s energy.?
Even though the team didn?t win a match, Collins said the program is flourishing.
?I don?t think the losses hurt us,? Collins said. ?If you want to play soccer you?re going to play it. The program has come a long way while I?ve been here. In the beginning, we didn?t have facilities. Now we have our own field right here by the high school. We have our own concession stand. We have scoreboards now. All of that is what I have been shooting for.?
Since the logistics and essentials have been achieved, Collins said his agenda is ready to take the next step.
?Now I think we can get it to be an important program here at the school,? the coach said. ?It is getting up there. We want to be just like every other sport at Washington, but is going to take time.?
An established junior varsity team helps feed the fortunes of the varsity. However, the success of a junior varsity team often depends on numbers. Oftentimes the Demons will play a half of jayvee action after the varsity game. They will also play in a shortened match.
Collins will have some of the varsity players play in positions they?re not familiar with. The experience on a different part of the field in a different position helps expand different players? knowledge and appreciation of the game.
?I think we have to work on every little bit of the game to get better,? Collins said.