Tuesday, August 16, 2005

People hate them some soccer

High school soccer season hasn't even started yet and people are already complaining. I just can't even begin to understand why people have so much hate for soccer. And after today I'm pretty sure that where I live the boys' soccer people hate the girls' soccer people.

But the funniest part about it is that the girls' soccer organization here is the hardest working group in the county and I think that is why a lot of people hate them. Our local high school allocates about $900 for the entire girl soccer program. That $900 is for uniforms, shoes, balls, goals, refs all season and anything else they might need. Instead of spending that money the coaches give it back to the high school and this season is looking to spend about $20,000 of the money they raised themselves on their program. No other sports organization in can even begin to touch it around here.

I'm not going to say that I am a huge fan of soccer, but I can watch our local girls' team all day long because they are good. And being in the newspaper business, it's great because it's a story fit for a movie.

This is the third year of varsity soccer at the local high school. The first year that the girls got to play they only had 13 players. Since you have to have 10 players plus a goalkeeper on the field to start the game, that gave them 2 players for substitution. Not only did they have a winning season, but they became instant contenders in a district where the other 4 teams are in a city that has twice the population of our county. And each school probably has had soccer program for 15 or 20 years.

Last season, their second, despite a ton of injuries the made it into the top 25 in the state. A rarity if you don't play in Lexington or Louisville. They beat a top 10 ranked school and they had two players elected to the All-State soccer squads.

This season looks to be their best season yet since they have more players and some freshmen who have been chomping at the bit to play varsity. Since soccer is full-contact you have to be in high school to play varsity. The best thing about the JV squad is that until this year they had some JV starters that were still in elementary school. These girls who were sometimes 6 inches to a foot shorter than their competition of sophomores and juniors in high school would pound them.

What people don't realize that if they had 3 players go down they would have had to shut down the program that first year. And going into district play they were down to one player on the bench when one broke her foot. What they've done here is the equivalent of starting a basketball team with 6 players or a football team with 13 and putting the fear of God into their opponents.

So now this season they are looking to win their first district and first regional title and advance to the state tournament, if all goes to plan. There aren't many schools, if any, that can say that. And this is a team in poor rural county in western Kentucky with a single public high school. And they are going to pound a team this Saturday that is from a school that has 4 times as many students as we do at our high school.

I just can't understand people around here. They've never even seen a soccer game in person. Some won't even call it a sport even though the girls who play soccer are the best athletes in the school, bar none. The few girls who play soccer and basketball run circles around opponents on the basketball court and when basketball is over they can't begin to get up and down the soccer field. Playing competitive basketball from December to nearly April all week long can't even keep them in soccer shape.

But then again soccer isn't a sport, is it?

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