Outside of baseball and basketball, most high school athletes go their separate ways and find an entirely different group of teammates when club sports consume their athletic lives.
That’s why high school summer conditioning is so important for a sport like soccer.
Not only do the non-mandatory workouts help players get in playing shape for the upcoming fall season, but coaches also use the time to explain their expectations as well as help the players mesh with each other.
“They’re doing well. We’re getting them cleared this week. The first meeting is Friday to start the season,” Sparks boys soccer coach Frank Avilla said. “Everybody on the team plays tournament ball, so we just get them together once a week for conditioning and talk to them about what we’re going to be doing for this season coming up. We just have to introduce them to our style of play in high school, which tends to be different than what I see in recreational leagues and open their eyes to that.
“From what I’ve seen, we have some good speed and we have some good coaching. With those two things and with them increasing their knowledge of the game, I think we’ll do just fine.”
However, the summer workouts aren’t always positive for programs.
Reed girls soccer coach Jason Saville realized that despite last year’s struggles with a young team, the 2010 season wasn’t a rebuilding season. There are more reasons for concern heading into a new campaign. The numbers this year at non-mandatory workouts are the lowest they’ve ever been.
Only 26 players have been participating in the workouts and only 26 girls have been cleared to play, which is about 15 less than normal. The reality of the situation is Saville probably won’t have to cut anyone when official practices begin Monday.
“I thought last year was bad,” Saville said. “In terms of the way the season is starting, at least on paper, it is not as good as it has been in the past. We’re a little nervous, but the incoming freshmen are pretty talented.”
Saville expects to start eight or nine underclassmen. One senior and a junior are expected to start, while another junior is in competition for a starting spot but could be beaten out by a freshman.
The Raiders also won’t be very deep, so injuries could be a problem.
Saville attributes the lack of numbers to several causes. First off, he admits that his coaching style might be a little too demanding for some girls, who are used to the lax atmosphere around recreational soccer leagues. Also, several girls live in the Reed zone, but instead attend Bishop Manogue and play for the Miners.
There are also kids who play club soccer year round and then burn themselves out and decide to play a different sport or focus on social activities. Because of these reasons, Saville believes the program is down at least 10 girls who could be playing soccer.
The Reed girls have non-mandatory conditioning tonight and Thursday of this week. They will start double-days next week. Saville will use Monday and Tuesday’s practices to figure how players will be divided between the JV and varsity squads. Wednesday will likely mark the first varsity-only practices.