August 23, 2007
We have now reached the one-week mark in our preseason training. Some of the freshmen were commenting that it feels more like a month! We have had our days packed with team activities, double trainings, weights, and have even played our first scrimmage.
This year our coaches have stressed the importance of talented depth within the team in order to be successful through the entire season. Usually through a game-packed season some starters pick up injuries and it's important to have talented players replacing them. Dean has organized our team into a lineup with two good players at each position. This setup creates a setting where players compete for starting spots and playing time at each training session, and it creates a very competitive atmosphere.
Our new position scheme was tested almost immediately because, unlike years past, our exhibition game came after only three days of training. Due to scheduling conflicts between NCAA divisions, this date was the latest our cross-town rivals, SPU, could play us. We were still very inexperienced with our new formation and coping with the rigorous fitness required of two-a-days. SPU had been training for over a week longer and already had an exhibition game under its belt. Before the game we were excited, but unsure, of how our team would perform for this test.
Fortunately, for those Husky fans that didn't make the game, we performed very well! Coach Dean organized our team into two separate teams, two 11's, and each 'team' played a portion of the match allowing every player to get a chance. It was exciting to see both 'teams' perform very well, and it shows a lot of promise for this season. The final score was 4-1, and we dominated the play throughout the entire game. All of the freshmen made their debuts and showed lots of confidence and composure in their first game. The highlight of the game in my opinion was when No. 9 Raphael Cox, or R9, chipped the SPU keeper from the left side of the field. The ball sailed across the face of the goal, over the keeper's head, off the far post and in. Sportscenter Top-10 worthy for sure!
Our excitement from the win soon dwindled as we mentally prepared to run the infamous Beep Test the following morning at 8am. This test requires us to run back and forth between lines in time with loud beeps. The beeps increase in speed and eventually the body can't continue. The test is used to measure distance and heart rate, the 'max heart rate' number reached at the end is used then used as a benchmark for fitness progress throughout the season. We strapped our monitors on and ran until exhaustion! Following that test we have continued with our two-a-day training every day. Training sessions have primarily addressed fitness, defending, and playing in our new formation.
One of the highlights of the preseason has been the completion of the new ICA weight room. It is incredible and an astounding upgrade from the previous one. It's so nice that it actually motivates me to lift, an area that in the past I haven't been too fond of!
Our daily routines apart from the actual training include intentional efforts to keep the players feeling good and healthy. We take ice baths after every training, we lift weights that aim to prevent injuries every other day, and many of us use the heat packs, hot pools, and treatment from our trainer Melissa to warm up before each training as well. We're also given energy bars and shakes after every training to help the body with rapid recovery. So far injuries have been few and far between, and none serious!
During each of my seasons here I have seen the players mesh together in different ways to create unique team atmospheres. It's amazing that despite only losing a few senior players from last year we still have an entirely new dynamic. So far I am really excited about the way our team dynamic is coming to play on the field. The coaches are always looking to create that perfect atmosphere where the players are having fun, but there is intensity to that fun that all championship teams have. They use the term "serious fun," and in my experience the seriousness, aggression, and competitive drive are just as important as the enjoyment part.
An inspired team can't have one without the other; I have seen our team having fun but losing games and performing badly when it counts, and I have seen our team fighting and angry having lost sight of the great blessing of playing soccer everyday at a high level. My hope for this team, the last Husky team I will be apart of, is that we can achieve that championship quality and reach our full potential. If we can reach our full potential with the fantastic talented players we already have then mark my words, this team will achieve more, and go further than any Husky Soccer team of the past!
So now, having read this, you have to come out to watch and see what I'm talking about. Our first home game is on September 18th against our biggest Northwest rival the University of Portland at 7pm!