This soccer season marked the beginning of a major restructuring of the program, changing from a C and D team to two C-level teams. This is the first time the program has used this structure in five years, and the coaches believe the change will improve the soccer team as a whole by starting with improvements from the bottom.
“We wanted to balance out the teams to make them both more competitive,” varsity coach Jamie Kelly said. “[Having two C-teams] is an opportunity for more players to play at a high level.”
The two C-teams, now called Blue Team and Black Team, are led by former C-team coach Elliott Pattison and a new coach, Fernando Rodriguez respectively. They hope that through the two C-teams, the players will be able to develop at an equal rate and improve their skill set further.
“Having just the Blue and Black [teams] will allow us to be able to compete really well and help kind of bring everybody up at the same time instead of just having the C-team progress and the D-team just a little bit…” Pattison said. “Now with two C teams, everybody is going to push each other [and] everyone is going to get playing time. They’ll really be able to get those minutes that everybody needs to hopefully move up to the JV/varsity level.”
The teams are also more flexible now in terms of their practices and rosters. By having two C-level teams, both will have the opportunity to practice game-like situations and play more scrimmages together. Additionally, players can be moved freely from team to team in case of injuries or missing players now that Blue Team and Black Team are playing at the same level.
However, the change has not come without its difficulties and sacrifices. Because the two teams are playing at the same level, the amount of games must be shared between the teams. Players have also been opposed to the new team structure, including sophomore and Blue Team captain Simon Zimmerman.
“Coming from the D team, and then going to both even teams kind of makes me […] feel like I tried really hard to get on the upper team, but it’s the same team basically all over again,” Zimmerman said. “We just have to get better chemistry throughout the team, and I’m really happy for what the future holds.”
Pattison encourages his players to be patient though, and he believes his players will “see the light at the end of the tunnel” as the season progresses. In the coming years, he predicts major growth in the soccer program as a whole.
“I see in the next 2-3 years both our JV and varsity being just outstanding teams,” Pattison said. “When we are able to develop these C-team players on both the Blue and Black team and then continue pushing them into that JV spot, they’re just going to be that much more prepared. Then, it’s not so much teaching them the fundamentals anymore; it’s more of the strategy, [and] we can really just focus on and get them ready for those higher competitive games.”