As a new soccer season begins, team captain Natalie Bartlett is working on boosting the confidence of both her teammates and herself. With the support and knowledge gained from Lady Wildcat alumni, Bartlett hopes to bring her team together this season.
“Being a part of the lady’s soccer team is fun yet challenging,” Bartlett said. “You get to be a part of a family and make new friends along the way. I enjoy making bonds with my teammates and pushing them to be the best they can.”
Lady Wildcat coaches, Gena McGee and Fabrizio Campagnola, have been working hard to make sure both the varsity and junior varsity teams have what it takes to create an unforgettable season.
“Coach Campagnola and I have put a lot of thought into our practices,” McGee said. “I feel like things are organized, there’s a purpose to everything that we do every day, and at the end of the day we are always thinking about how that will help us prepare for matches.”
With COVID-19 being a major factor this year, the soccer coaches have seen challenges they were not used to seeing. The soccer teams have had to cancel any tournament games with the exception of state and championship games. The blended school schedule has also placed barriers on how athletes can work on improving their skills.
“For athletics, it’s a little harder because we don’t have homework that we can have them take home and do,” Campagnola said. “If you don’t work with us, you are not going to improve your skills or learn how to play with your teammates. There’s not a way for students to make up what they missed in practice as they might do in regular classes.”
Safety protocols have been taken all year to ensure the girls have a safe season. International walkouts have been taken out of the games, social distancing, and mask-wearing have all been enforced as well.
“There’s also more documentation if students do get sick with COVID and they have to follow return to play protocols just to make sure that there’s no after-effects with heart conditions that may have occurred because of having covid,” McGee said.
Last year, the girls soccer team saw an abrupt ending to their soccer season due to the beginning of COVID-19. Prior to the season ending, the Lady Wildcats defeated both Russellville and Grove high school.The idea of getting back on the field this season has been an inspiration for both the players and coaches.
“I think the biggest motivation is the fact that we’ve already seen other sports get to participate and have a full season and that motivating factor is encouraging to the girls,” McGee said. “They don’t feel that they’re doing work without an end product or end result.”