The Fitch girls soccer team is working hard to get ready for the start of the soccer schedule this month. On Wednesday, they were at Falcon Stadium to take part in speed training where girls are teamed up and one uses a long resistance band to try to hold back her partner, who is driving forward.
This year, roughly 30 girls have come out for the Fitch soccer team. But what really pleases coach Tex Martin is the change in sports he has noticed over the past few years.
"Most of this year's team is made up of soccer-only girls," he said.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Fitch sophomore Kaelyn Puhalla and senior Mikah Vaughn are gaining leg strength by pulling the resistance band held by sophomore Justine Phillips and senior Jayme Ritchie during training for the Fitch girls soccer team at Falcon stadium on Wednesday.
Martin said in prior years, a girl may play soccer in the fall, then go on to a winter sport and some even add in a spring sport. For the younger girls on this year's team, it is all coming down to focusing on one sport only.
"Almost all of our girls are soccer-only," Martin said. "They play club soccer in the off season, making it a year-round sport."
As this new group of soccer players gain experience, Martin believes it will help make a stronger team. Last year, his team finished 9-8-1 with only four seniors and a lot of newcomers. This season he is looking at the stronger leadership of seven seniors combined with upcoming good freshmen.
"Hopefully this will be a better year for us," Martin said.
The team will have a few weeks to pull it together before meeting their first opponent, Hoover, on the home field on Aug. 19. It won't be their first big challenge though. On Saturday, Aug. 10 at Falcon stadium, the varsity squads will be facing fellow Falcons from the past in the annual alumni game. The girls will play at 4 p.m., followed by the boys soccer team at 6 p.m. Last year was the first year that both the boys and girls faced their alumni counterparts on the same day.
"Past girls and boys team members wanted the two games together so they could visit with former teammates," Martin said.
He said the idea was put into action and was a big hit, so the boys/girls games will continue on the same day again this year.
Linda Gillespie, spokesperson for the boys team said there could be more than one game.
"If we get enough alumni, then we will split them into two teams and play a round robin, each alumni playing our varsity team and each other for a total of three games," she said.
She said the girls will play one game at 4 p.m., but the boys will depend on the number of alumni. Alumni players are asked to show at the field 30 minutes prior to the first game and have shirt size ready.
The event is open to the public and refreshments will be available. For more information, contact alumni game coordinator Dan Conley at 330-402-4999 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.