By Sage Pitman
“I thought there would be more running,” seventh grader Will Floyd said on the third day of soccer camp. This is Floyd’s first year playing soccer on a team. With pastexperiences in sports with “a lot of running,” Floyd was surprised, and a bit grateful, for the unorthodox methods of coach AJ Mondragon, Chris Mitchell, and Nick Widgeon. Instead of running laps, the coaches broke the boys into groups and cycled each group through a series of intense workouts. “Push-ups are the easiest workout. I like them because if someone grabs my jersey in a game, I’ll be strong and swipe their arm,” Floyd said.
Christ Covenant alum Cole Anderson has also had his share of push-ups from nine years of Spartan soccer. Anderson volunteered to help at the camp to train alongside his former schoolmates before entering Army ROTC at Liberty University. Yet he gained an unexpected outside perspective while watching his youngest brother, sixth grader Cade Anderson, in warm-ups: “Cade is the same age I was when I started playing. He’s eager to learn…and yet he’s so young. It’s crazy to see how far I’ve come. I was never the fastest or the strongest when I played. At first, I wasn’t ever a starting player. But I took criticism well and practiced based on that. I put in the work and it eventually paid off.”
Second-year JV and varsity coach Nick Widgeon’s goal is to jump into this season seriously in order to “bridge the gap between the new and the returning players.” Widgeon played soccer throughout high school and college and then went on to several state teams. “Some of these guys have potential at playing at a higher level than high school…these kids have great determination,” he said.
Even the new players are adapting quickly to the unexpected rigor of the season. Nearly one third of this year’s team is playing soccer for the first time. “Literally the hardest part of practice is practicing everyday, 3:30-5:30, over and over and over. I think the kids are enjoying it,” twelfth grader Lachlan James said. Although practice can be monotonous, the afternoons the boys will spend together will bring them close. New players like seventh grader Evan Nichols attest for the sport’s community. “I like working as a team, playing as a team, learning team members’ names,” he said.
In the history of varsity soccer, wins have not dominated the score sheets; but with passionate coaching and intense, independant work, James believes the team may bring “public school-level skills” in the future: “I’m really excited about the younger kids coming…when they’re seniors and juniors, Christ Covenant will have a really good team that can really put up a fight.”