See what happens when our staff members drop their racket and bow and take the field with the Varsity girls soccer team.

Rachel Beckman

I have never played soccer before, besides the casual passing along the shoreline at the beach and family party backyard games. When I was asked to participate in the Tom Tom Tries event, I was pretty laid back in response, saying that I would love to be a part of the Varsity girls’ practice. However, as time drew closer, I became a bit nervous. I had no soccer skills from the past, and I knew the practice would be an embarrassment. Nevertheless, I jogged out to the field and begin passing warmups as Coach P directed me.

I’m unsure of the names of the various drills used during warmups, but they were more complicated than I expected. When Coach P said we would be doing simple dribbling passes, we were practicing two-touch passes in groups and head-to-toe kicks with a partner. The partner-pass drills were not as difficult, and I caught on after a few tries. But once we were in groups and receiving and passing the ball, it became difficult for me to follow the “two-touch only” rule, taking three or four steps before kicking the ball to the next player. Each time a player in the group took more steps than allocated, we as a team needed to do that number of burpees. This passing exercise showed the quick response rate that soccer players need in a game, and it is aimed to perfect this skill throughout the whole team

Because the practice followed a disappointing game the evening before, I took part in several exercises that worked on technical moves and plays on the field. After our last round of two-touch passes, we were placed on the field and followed through a rotation exercise where midfield players and those on the sidelines on both sides of the field received and passed the ball, running to their next position afterwards. I thought that my taking part in this passing exercise would mess up the flow, but I think that Emma and I blended in well enough not to stop it each time. I was hesitant near the beginning of this rotation, but understood who and where to pass in each position after a few rounds. By the end I got the hang of receiving the ball, but tried to perfect my kicking distance.

Reflecting on the practice in general, I came into it hesitantly because I knew little about the ins and outs of the sport. But the encouragement and guidance of girls on the team was helpful in making this experience one that was fun and enjoyable. Not only did I learn the basics of soccer, passing and kicking, but also the involvement and commitment needed to be a part of the team. I assumed that as long as everyone had the techniques and skill down, the team would do well on the field. However, Coach P made it clear that communication among players is key to winning.

Emma DeJong

This was the first time I’ve ever played soccer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of pick-up beach games and kicking around the ol’ ball with some friends in the street, but this was the only time I’ve played real soccer. Good form, quality technique, strong foot-eye coordination- I lacked all of these things. Being out on the field with girls who have played for years and years really showed me how little I know about the sport.

For one thing, the warmup really got to me. The whole dynamic stretching routine of running back and forth on the field was super tiring. I really give props to the girls team, and all soccer players- it takes some strong lungs to be able to run up and down the field so much. I could get away with the drills following the stretching, but of course these involved lots of running too. I got yelled at a few times to kick with the inside of my foot and not my toes, but I took Coach P’s two cents with open arms- or legs? Just after the first rotation in the “two touch” kicking thing, I was already feeling better at the sport. What I struggled with most was kicking the ball with enough force to make it across the field. I’m really impressed with the girls I played with and how hard they could kick the ball. When it came down to new plays and strategies, I was totally lost. The coach threw out words like attacker and block, and I was so lost. She told me to open my hips a few times; I didn’t know why or how to do that. What does that even mean? Where do I go? Wait, what’s happening? I asked myself these questions probably a million times. I just followed what the other players were doing though, and it went pretty okay.

Soccer is a sport I always wished I got into when I was younger. I like it because it can be played literally anywhere, and can be played with as little or as many people as wanted. It can be played between a mix of skill, gender, and language, all of which don’t create a barrier in the game. For example, I have experience playing soccer with some Cuban guys over spring break 2017, and it wasn’t difficult at all. Obviously, if I had better handles with my feet it would have gone much smoother, but I still managed fine. I hope to keep playing throughout my whole life, and I’m sure I’ll get a little better each time I try. Soccer is really fun, but it’s a lot different playing with your friends all goofy on the beach than it is playing on a field with serious and focused players.