WTAMU soccer keeps on kicking

With+COVID-19+still+a+concern%2C+sports+have+taken+a+major+hit.+However%2C+WTAMU%27s+soccer+teams+are+still+striving+for+success.

Skylerr Patterson

With COVID-19 still a concern, sports have taken a major hit. However, WTAMU’s soccer teams are still striving for success.

With COVID-19 still a concern, sports have taken a major hit. Seasons have been shortened, games have the chance of being canceled last minute and athletes are having to take extra precautions. The same goes for West Texas A&M University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“[COVID-19] took our regular fall season. We had to adapt and a smaller conference season has been scheduled for the spring,” said Alexander Vencel, senior computer science major and goalkeeper.

“Our season is not technically called a season because our number of games have been reduced by half. We have been lucky enough to schedule a few games to play per semester,” said Jaycie Day, a freshmen sports and exercise science major and defender.

COVID-19 even caused a change in the games that were scheduled the weekend of Nov. 7, 2020.

While the girls were not able to play, the guys were still able to take to the field.

“Well, we got to play last weekend even though it was not the team that was originally planned. Those teams had to cancel because of [COVID-19] issues, but the coaches were able to adapt to the situation and still find us a game,” Vencel said.

Just as they adapted for last weekend’s game, the soccer teams have been adapting their practices in order to stay safe.

“Our team has been really careful about going out and seeing a lot of people, which I think has kept us from catching anything. We all wear our masks whenever we’re off the field and before stepping on it everyday we get symptom checks to make sure nobody is sick. We are even required every week to get a [COVID-19] test before being able to compete in a game,” Day said.

Even though the soccer season is not technically a season, there has been some positive outcomes of this.

“I think that having an off season in the fall really helped our team to get together and know each other well. What is usually harder as normally the season starts so fast you barely get to know your teammates before the first games,” Vencel said.

With there being more time to improve, WTAMU athletics and soccer coaches strive to do just that.

WTAMU athletics goal is to “Provide and implement balanced training programs to ultimately enhance the athletic abilities for each individual,” according to the WTAMU Athletics pages.

“My coaches are very good at what they do, I don’t think I’ve ever been as skilled in soccer as I have this year. Although we have only just begun this season, I have already seen so much improvement in everyone. We work on the simple stuff which can change so much in how we play, and as far as [COVID-19] they have been supportive with all of the changes we’ve had to endure. They have made this year an enjoyable process and they understand that this year is all about improvements,” Day said.

Before adding COVID-19 regulations, being a soccer player already involved a lot of hardwork and dedication.

“With the field of education I am taking and managing to juggle soccer, my time schedule is packed. For soccer two days out of the week we have weight workouts, about everyday we have soccer practice, and the day we have off we have to get in community service hours. I mostly spend time with my soccer team, and in my freetime I find time to study for my classes,” Day said.

Training and playing doesn’t begin to sum up what soccer is to these players. It’s more than running up and down the field looking for passes.

“Sports have always been a huge part of my life. I’m really competitive so it challenges me to work harder and it has shaped me to work under pressure as well as working well with others. I wouldn’t say that soccer is my main purpose in life, but it is one of the things that has pushed me forward and I’m really passionate about it,” Day said.

“Soccer, that’s my whole life since I’m born. My dad and grandfather played pro so I was always inspired. I never want to stop playing even though I know that one day I will have to. We play because we love the game,” Vencel said.

With this sort of drive and passion for the sport, COVID-19 has failed in stopping the work of WTAMU’s soccer teams.

“You can not win if you don’t put in the effort when it’s necessary,” Vencel said.