Cameron Cox, a member of the Seymour boys soccer team, and Flossie Cooper, a member of the Trinity Lutheran girls soccer squad, both said it was a good feeling to be able to practice Monday.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association allowed high school sports teams to begin workouts Monday. That was the first time high school athletes were allowed to set foot on campuses since the COVID-19 epidemic forced all schools to close March 12.
The Seymour boys and girls will work out three times a week through July, while the Trinity teams will practice twice a week. Regular practice for soccer and most of the other fall athletic teams will begin Aug. 3.
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Cooper said Monday was the first time she has been on a soccer field since sectional last fall, while Cox participated in some indoor workouts last winter. Both planned to play spring sports but saw those plans shut down when the coronavirus hit.
Both seniors will be co-captains of their squads this fall.
“I just want to get a touch on the ball, and then practice shooting, finishing. I need to get better at that, and I want to bond with the team since I haven’t gotten to yet, especially the new players,” Cox said.
“I’m normally very quiet, so I try to become more vocal because you have to to be a captain,” he said. “I try to lead by example since I’m not too loud. I’m looking forward to improving my game and getting to meet my new teammates.”
He said the Owls accomplished a lot on their first day together.
“I felt like everyone worked hard, especially for not working that much for a while, being off for so long,” he said. “We did a lot of passing. Getting touches is very important for soccer.”
Seymour players participated indoor workouts over the winter, and boys coach Matt Dennis said some players began to play travel soccer in late June.
“Normally, our schedule is about an hour and 40 minutes of lifting and conditioning, followed by an hour of soccer,” he said. “This year, we’re not doing any weightlifting, so we’re going to maximize the time we’re allowed to have with foot skills.”
During the stretch of time when students could not work out at high schools, technology played a role in keeping them up to date with messages from coaches and general instruction.
“We were trying to get the boys, through virtual meetings and things like that, to do some individual touch skills at their houses on their own,” Dennis said. “My idea was if they were doing that, then what they couldn’t do at home would have been passing because they didn’t have a second person, so I wanted to do a ton of that (Monday), and that’s what we had.”
In groups of five, the players were spread out doing passing and getting a lot of touches.
“It was great to be out, great to see the team, great to see them enjoying the game again,” Dennis said.
He will add more drills as the team progresses.
“We’re going to start with individual skills, lots of passing and receiving and lots of individual touch and finishing, and as we get closer to the season, we’ll start throwing in the contact and things that we know we’re going to need,” he said.
Soccer is a physical sport, and contact is part of the game, not something easily practiced when a player is home alone.
“If we can push the contact off for a while and see how opening up the state behaves, we’ll feel a lot safer about it,” Dennis said. “We’re going to start with one- and two-person drills that will eventually lead to 11 versus 11 come Aug. 15 when we play Jasper.”
For Cooper, she’s looking forward to getting in shape, working as a team, getting to know the other players better, understanding the coaches and getting to play as one big unit.
This fall, she expects to emphasize defense.
“Last year, I did a lot of defense, the sweeper position, and every now and then, I played center midfield, so I’ll probably be more on defense,” she said. “I like how you can kind of see the rest of your team in front of you. You have the whole field, and it’s just kind of fun to anticipate how the ball is going to get to you and see your teammates do their thing up the field.”
Trinity girls coach said he’s focusing on getting his players to move their feet a little bit.
“It’s hard to get them to do too much on endurance in this heat other than just getting them to move their feet,” he said. “We’re not going to have them do long runs. We found some shady spots, and we did some sprints. That’s pretty much it. We just want to get everyone out there and give them a chance to know each other for some of the new ones and start to jell before we really hit practice.”
The Trinity boys and girls are working out at the same time and shared the field Monday night.
For part of the time, boys coach Joe Doggett had his players working on the field, while Hayes had members of his team at the other end.
“These drills are for playing together, getting people who maybe have not played a lot of soccer to learn what soccer is about and practice teamwise working on positioning,” Doggett said.
“This is mostly what we call a kick-around, a fun time where we have girls playing against guys. They enjoy that. It’s been that way for years. We coaches get to see these (athletes) play and kind of get what kind of talent we have and who can play what positions.”
Doggett said he will work with a squad of 18 this fall.
“That’s the biggest team I’ve had,” he said. “The extra bodies make a big difference.”
One senior is Ethan Myers, son of Gary Myers, a Cougar assistant coach. A two-year starter, Ethan played a lot of forward last fall and hopes to score several goals this season.
“I like to play forward,” he said. “We just want to get a little head start and see what we’ve got for the year and build upon that.”
Seymour girls coach Greg Musser said his team will drill Tuesdays and Thursdays and work on conditioning Wednesdays.
“We’ll work with the ball, get a lot of touches, pass-receive kind of stuff, limit the contact for the first couple weeks and play some possessions where the numbers are skewed to benefit more people so there is less contact,” he said.
“On Wednesdays, there won’t be a ball out,” he said. “We’ll just go for some runs and do some agility work and get that kind of stuff done. After the first two weeks of this, the acclimation period and restrictions open up a little bit.”
The main thing now is touches, he said.
“As much as we ask them to get some touches on their own, it’s always tough to motivate yourself by yourself,” he said. “Out here, something we’ll definitely be hitting hard the first couple weeks is touches under pressure and quicker touches, faster pace.”
Mallory Moore, a Seymour senior and co-captain, will start her fourth season as a varsity starter.
“I think we have the skill set necessary,” she said. “We’re just trying to get back into it and become a team, players moving together, communicating together and being successful to win together.”