For three days each summer, Seymour High School’s boys soccer team goes through a gauntlet at the University of Indianapolis.
The Owls get an opportunity to get away from the familiar and turn all focus to the pitch before the start of the fall season.
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Monday through Wednesday, the Owls worked with other high school programs and college coaches on the UIndy campus.
It was the third straight year the program traveled to the university on the south side of Indianapolis and fifth consecutive time it attended a college camp.
Joining the Owls in attendance this year were Brownsburg, Castle, Columbus East, East Central, Evansville Harrison, Plainfield and Whiteland.
Owls head coach Matt Dennis said the team looks forward to the camp each year.
“We know all of the high school coaches here. They are guys that I have known for years, from conventions to district voting meetings,” Dennis said. “It’s nice to have a bunch of guys in the coaching community together. It’s good to catch up with them, and there’s also a familiarity with the UIndy coaching staff. We know those coaches.
“One of those coaches (Shaun Mahoney) was head coach at Seymour for a while, so we have that relationship,” he said. “It gives our kids an honest look at what college coaches are like. College coaches are training them during all of the sessions, and it’s a really comfortable environment. It’s competitive. We’re getting good matches against quality opponents in. It’s just a great experience.”
This past fall, Dennis (79) passed Mahoney (69) for all-time coaching wins at Seymour.
The format of the camp changed this year, with teams scrimmaging in the morning before training sessions. During the scrimmages, the college coaches watched the high school teams and sat in on huddles to see what needed worked on.
“In years past, we just had some random sessions from some random college coaches and then played two games and left,” Dennis said. “This is more, ‘Let’s have a look at you and come up with a session that’s tailored for you.’ I appreciate that. It has been great for the kids.”
In the scrimmages, the Owls fell to Brownsburg 5-1, beat East Central 2-0 and lost to Plainfield 1-0.
“They are very good teams. It’s really great competition for us, and it gives us the chance to get an honest look at our kids,” Dennis said.
On top of the UIndy staff running the camp, the Owls worked with coaches from Valparaiso University and North Park University (Illinois).
“The workouts have been hard, but they have been making us better,” sophomore Luke Reasoner said. “It’s a team bonding exercise being here. We get to work on team chemistry and work on skills. They’re good coaches. They know what they’re doing. They are helping us work at a college level and helping us get better every day.”
The players also had classroom workshops that focused on building leadership and positive off-field habits.
The Owls are going through some major changes this summer.
Seymour finished 12-4, including 7-0 in Hoosier Hills Conference play, in 2018, but 11 seniors graduated.
In the preseason, many players are getting their first varsity reps.
“It has gotten better,” Dennis said. “We’re young and learning every day. The boys are starting to buy into the stuff we want them to do. If we’re still on this track in October, we will be on a good side in the tournament. We don’t need them to be the perfect team now. We need them to grow and grow and grow and see improvement.”
Incoming sophomore Avery Penegar said the team has grown over the summer workouts.
“The summer is going good,” he said. “The team in the beginning wasn’t really communicating. After a while, we get used to each other and really started communicating. We’re working on our passing. We want to be more accurate and have more pace. We want to be better in transition from the defensive third to the attacking third.”
Seymour will open its season on the road Aug. 17 at Jasper.