With hearts pounding and sweaty palms, the girls’ soccer team kicks around, warming up for tryouts. This year besides the usual tryout nerves, they also have a feeling of uncertainness. The girls gather in clusters looking around in anticipation knowing they are scored by the coaches on their every move.
Whether they are running a timed sprint or doing a drill for one-on-one defending, the coaches grade will grade everything on a one to five scale.
“I overheard girls, freshmen all the way to seniors, with the constant discussion of scores,” junior Kendall Dunbar said. “When a girl would hear another’s that was better than her it would almost feel like she was knocked down a peg.”
Coach Jamie Kelly created a new tryout system for this spring to make evaluating large groups easier. It also allows for players who are upset about not making a team reflect on what they need to work on.
On the final day of tryouts, all of the total points each player has scored will be added up. However many points they score will determine if the player makes a team and what team they will play on.
Sophomore Larkin McLiney, who played JV last spring, is skeptical about the new system.
“I think it puts a little more pressure on everyone and it will make it harder,” McLiney said. “Sometimes a number won’t represent exactly how good you are.”
But Kelly disagrees and believes that the new system will have little effect on the results of tryouts.
“We still will see the same players and talent, that stuff will not change,” Kelly said. “We will just put a number on what we see instead of saying ‘OK they are a good passer.’ Now it will be they are a four for passing or a five for passing.”
The reason for the change started with boys soccer this fall when 120 boys tried out. According to Kelly, it was the most they have ever had. Due to a large number of boys trying out, there had to be a lot of cuts. Then tryouts were mostly done by subjective criteria such as watching players scrimmage and go through drills.
“We had a whole bunch of players who came in and were wondering why they didn’t make a team. If it was me I would have done the same thing,” Kelly said. “I would want to know why I didn’t make a team so I could work on stuff.”
In order to better explain to kids what they needed to work on and also to make it easier to evaluate a large number of players, the soccer coaches needed to add different aspects to the tryout.
“We as coaches felt that we needed more objective criteria as supposed to subjective criteria,” Kelly said. “It helps so we can get a better judge of so many boys in a small amount of time because we only have four days of tryouts”.
Some of the new objective drills will include a juggling test, an eight lap time test, and a ladder agility test. For running activities, the time will be recorded and the amount of juggles will be recorded for the juggling test.
“The way that people can score points from those drills is we will take the top 20 percent highest scores and those kids get five points,” Kelly said. “The next highest 20 percent get four points, then next highest 20 percent get three, and so on.”
Another way players can score points is how coaches evaluate them on a subjective drill. These drills are ones that a cannot be timed or counted, such as movement off the ball and one-on-one defending.
The new system also helps coaches evaluate players who are on the bubble of making a certain team or getting cut. According to Kelly, if two kids are competing for one spot, then whoever has scored the most points over the tryouts gets the spot.
On Friday night, soccer girls will constantly be checking their phones, waiting to see if they scored high enough to make the team.