By TAYLOR GRAFFT
Girl’s Head Soccer Coach Kelsey Quinn was not sure if she would have enough interest or girls to fill a roster for the soccer program’s first scrimmage.
“Right now I have 47 girls,” said Coach Quinn. “It surpasses all my expectations. I thought I was going to be hurting for players. I’m excited there’s so much interest in it. Unfortunately, I only am allowed to have a varsity team, because I don’t have another person to coach junior varsity.”
The soccer program started with practices in the second month of school, in which the girls and boys practiced twice a week during the athletic period.
“It gives the kids an opportunity to practice soccer and get interested,” said Quinn. “We also have been able to focus on fitness and weights. It’s been fun, but the athletic period is short and sweet and doesn’t allow us much time to get things done.”
The coaches and players won’t be able to participate in after-school practice until Dec. 2, when they can work until 5 p.m. and really get some quality training on fundamentals and coaching the players.
The first scrimmage for the boy and girls teams will be against Wimberley at the Liberty Hill practice field on Dec. 30. The boys will play at 1 p.m. and the girls will play at 3 p.m. immediately following the boys game.
Due to UIL rules, the Panthers won’t be able to play official games or district games until next season, but the scrimmages will allow Boys Coach Darren Bauer and Quinn to get a head start and have a varsity roster in place by the time next year rolls around.
“Generally, you use scrimmages as warm-up games to start the season,” Coach Quinn said. “All of our scrimmages will be unofficial, since we can’t have a real season. The point of the scrimmages will be to get ready and figure out our teams. Figure out best positions for everyone.”
Both coaches were unsure if Liberty Hill would be allowed to play any scrimmages at all this year due to a low budget. Because the program didn’t have a big budget for travel, the only way they were going to be able to scrimmage was if the other teams were willing to travel to Liberty Hill.
The boys will play eight scrimmages over the course of the next few months starting on Dec. 30 and ending on Feb. 13, 2014. They also have one tournament in Salado scheduled.
The girls team will play seven scrimmages and have one tournament in Marble Falls in January 2014.
“The scrimmages will also help the girls to get used to touching the ball and building team chemistry,” Coach Quinn said. “It’ll help when we start playing district games next year, so we aren’t starting from scratch.”
Coach Quinn said she would narrow down the group of 47 girls to about 25 after starting official practices on Dec. 2.
“During the practices, we try to incorporate actual fitness into the drills,” she said. “Right now since we don’t have a set varsity roster, we’re focusing on ball control, shooting, dribbling, passing. Once I get the team picked for varsity, we’ll move towards more team-based drills.”
Coach Quinn said she has girls at practice that vary on skill level and experience, but she feels like they’re having a lot of fun participating and learning the game.
“Some of the girls have come a long way,” Coach Quinn said. “They’ll tell me they haven’t played soccer since they were five years old. A lot of the girls have the basics and concepts of soccer. In the month and a half to two months we’ve been practicing here, the girls have gotten a lot out of the drills. I told the girls that since we only have the athletic period to practice, they would have to do a lot of practicing on their own. If they aren’t’ involved in soccer clubs, they need to be staying after school to practice or playing on the weekends.
“I have some great kids that are out here practicing,” she said. “It’s been fun teaming up with Coach (Darren) Bauer and trying to figure this program out and how we want to approach it. All the kids have come out and hustled hard and worked hard during practice. We’re dealing with kids that really want to play soccer and are having fun doing it.”