Pictured: Alizeh Mohsin ’21, Ku Paw ’22, Vané Lois ’21, Allison Wall ’22, and Patricia Sackor-Blamah ’22
Article written by Allison Wall ’22 and Alexia Grech ’23
Each week throughout the fall, we will highlight one of our nine teams that normally have a very traditional competition season. Due to coronavirus and the safety protocols and guidelines that we have implemented and are closely following, our seasons have been severely modified.
Led by captains Patricia Sackor-Blamah ‘22, Ku Paw ‘22, and Allison Wall ‘22, and coached by Mr. Barker and Mr. D’Alessandro, JV soccer has almost seamlessly adjusted to this unexpected new normal. Although this is a season like no other, most notably due to the lack of games, one thing remains the same on JV soccer: the constant strive to improve both individual skills and the team as a whole. Coach Barker says that the team is “certainly preparing as if a game might happen.”
The team began the season in individual grids of about eight yards by eight yards. In these spaces players worked on quick, small movements with the ball, and some short passes to adjacent squares. After a few weeks of this, the team advanced to larger pods, this time with four team members in each. In these bigger squares that somewhat resembled a normal playing environment, players practiced short and long passing, challenging (from six feet away!) and keep away. The team has now graduated from the pods and is working as a whole team, still physically distant and with no contact.
Drills range from fitness work such as sprints and endurance work, to long and short passing, to crosses and shots on goal. Drills often build upon each other, adding new layers to help master the skills, and are strategically planned by the coaches to emphasize a certain skill each day. For example, one day might start with basic two-touch passing with a partner, then two-touch passing with a defender in the middle, then a small scrimmage using new passing abilities to score.
Coach D’Alessandro notes, “As a team we have demonstrated visible growth as individual players and as a unit. Each player has shown real improvement in their technique and comfort level with the ball at their feet. While it has been a minor frustration playing in grids, it has been exciting to watch our collective ability to make the ball really move nicely from side to side in a rapid manner.”
While games and the prospect of victory are typically the motivating factors for any sports team, losing them for this season has not diminished the team’s positive attitude. With or without competitions, the main goals of every JV soccer season – improving soccer skills, having fun, and being a team player – are as strong as they ever have been. When asked to describe the team in three words, captain Patricia Sackor-Blamah ‘22 chose “supportive, positive, and diligent.” She also pointed out one of Coach Barker’s signature quotes that perfectly sums up this season for JV soccer: “you are so much better than you were when you started.”
The 2020 soccer season is certainly going to be a memorable one, and it will be remembered as a season of growth, improvement, resilience, and strength. Once we come out on the other side of this pandemic and can return to fully playing the game we love, these skills we have obtained this season will be invaluable.