The East varsity soccer program is known throughout 6A for their two premiere teams. The girls’ and boys’ soccer teams, both coached by Jamie Kelly, are unique in their own ways. Both genders have their own mindset and play the game at their own speed, but as a whole, they share much more than just a coach.
Preseason for the boy’s team starts bright and early at 6 a.m. every summer morning for “kick-arounds.” Senior soccer players Will Fenimore and Michael Moedritzer stand alongside their teammates, stretching for the morning practice. Both returning and new players are welcome to train with the East soccer program to work on their game.
“We are all out of shape and lazy,” Fenimore said. “So the kick-arounds are a good way for us to change that, as well as meet some of the upcoming freshman.”
Despite the fact that the two teams play in different seasons, they try to practice with each other whenever possible.
“I encourage the girls to play with guys during the summer kick-arounds because it allows an opportunity for them to see how the game is played at a more physical level and vice-versa,” Varsity coach Jamie Kelly said. “I encourage the boys to train with the girls to see how the game is played with a more team-oriented-mindset.”
The girls’ soccer team does not have the added benefit of summer mornings to begin their training, so they are forced to find other ways to train prior to their tryouts. For some, that means braving the cold and snow to go practice up at East. For others, that entails getting a group of friends to go practice inside either a gym or indoor complex. The girls are also offered a conditioning session after school four days a week with Coach Kelly during the weeks leading up to the tryouts. If the weather is warm enough the girls are able to go outside to play.
“It’s really hard to find a place to practice,” said sophomore varsity player Josie Clough. “Usually a group of girls goes indoors and plays small-sided games to get better before tryouts.”
As far as tryouts go, Kelly says they are judged on a fairly similar scale. For the boys, the tryouts are generally the first or second week of school. Meaning that within two weeks the boys transition from casual summer morning practices to trying out for the program. The girls have less time to prepare for their tryouts so they do not have to undergo the stressful change.
“Despite what it seems, we all pretty nervous on the first day of tryouts,” Fenimore said. “We never know if someone who wasn’t at kick-arounds will show up and take our spots.”
The girls normally try out indoors due to cold weather, but stick to the same schedule as the boys. They starting off with basic skill and shooting drills, then working their way up to the long running.
“Every day is a new thing, a new challenge we have to complete,” Clough said. “The week usually starts off easy, but by the end of the week we are running a lot and working on our endurance.”
The style of play is another big difference between the two teams. “The boy’s varsity team is a much more physical and rough team to play with,” Kelly said. “They not only have skill, but also use muscle to win challenges against opponents .”
The girls take a different route. They focus on passing and ball movement to win games.
“The boys have a more individualized thinking and challenge their opponents more often,” Kelly said. “The girls’ team, on the other hand, has a much more team-oriented mindset.”
This difference in technique and mindset allows the two teams to exceed in their own ways.
The boy’s team ended their season at regionals in the fall with a loss to Blue Valley North.
“It was a tough loss and I was disappointed to end my last soccer game in a loss and to leave my team when we were so close,” Fenimore said.
The girls’ 2015 season is about to begin and expectations are high with nine returning varsity players.
“I am excited to see how the girls’ teams perform this year,” Kelly said. “We lost some great players last season so it will be interesting to see which players really step up and take their place.”