Newsie tries sport

Growing up, I always wished I was coordinated enough to play soccer. My sister played soccer, but somewhere along the way, the soccer gene was lost. So when I got the opportunity to practice with the boys’ soccer team, I was excited but a little nervous because I had never played soccer before.

On Saturday morning, after running eight miles for cross country and eating a big breakfast, I headed out to the soccer fields. It was 11 a.m. and already sticky out. All I could think was, “Don’t throw up.”

Coach Kelly Barah welcomed me with a high five, and I silently waited for practice to start, observing the boys’ in their natural environment while they talked, laughed and joked around. None of them seemed to notice that I was there.

Warm up started with drills. I figured that their drills would be similar to those at cross country practice. Several of them were the same, such as high knees and butt kicks, but others such as “close the gate” and “open the gate,” I had never seen before. I carefully mirrored the players’ movements while trying not to trip over my own feet. This was not easy.

When we got done warming up, Barah called the team into a huddle.  I stood in the back trying not to get in the way. Unfortunately, Barah decided to announce to the team that I was there, saying, “We have a reporter among us today so you may want to be on your best behavior” much to my embarrassment.

After Barah’s talk, practice began. Barah had them working on their technique by executing plays over and over again. I did not participate in this, obviously, because I would just get in the way.

While the players worked through plays, I took the opportunity to learn some basics from the managers. The first thing one of the managers, senior Jessica Babler, taught me was how to pass. She patiently endured my mistakes and never complained when I kicked the ball in the wrong direction.

Once I became decent enough at passing, we moved on to juggling. In layman’s terms, juggling is when they bounce the ball on their thighs/feet repeatedly, keeping the ball from touching the ground.   Let me just say, it’s harder than the soccer boys make it look. I tried over and over to juggle the ball on my thighs, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. However, I did manage to juggle with my foot. My shining moment came when I juggled the ball twice and then caught the ball before it fell on the ground. I felt pretty proud of myself.

Barah then insisted that another manager, senior Hadyn Hutchinson, put on her cleats, so she could teach me how to shoot. Shooting was difficult. I like to think it was harder because I was wearing tennis shoes and not cleats, but really, my inability came from my horrible coordination. I tried to aim the ball when I kicked it, but most of the time, it went the wrong way. I tried to play it off like I actually meant for the ball to go that way, so the team didn’t think I was as bad as I actually was.

After the team finished practicing plays, they split in half to scrimmage. I left during the scrimmage, since there was nothing left for me to do, and I was about to crash. Even as an outsider, I could tell they were a family. There was a sense of openness among the team, coaches and managers. From  trying to hit each other with soccer balls, to more serious matters like Barah talking to the team about making responsible choices, it was evident that they are more than just a team. They made me feel welcome, and I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere. I appreciated everyone’s patience with my uncoordinated self, and I wish the soccer team the best of luck this season.