Boys soccer program adds young players to experienced core for 2020 campaign
Thu, 08/13/2020 - 2:14pm caleb
Soccer, listed as a ‘moderate-risk’ sport by the MHSAA, not yet authorized to play games as of Thursday, August 13
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity boys soccer team started its official practice sessions for the 2020 season on Wednesday, August 12, following an offseason that the squad’s new coach said was productive despite limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Starting in July we did three days a week in the mornings. We had great attendance. The kids had fun. We did a lot of conditioning work,” Coach Andy Moore said regarding the team’s 2020 offseason. “The kids had fun, I know that.”
Moore, the new coach of the program, also coaches the varsity wrestling squad for Grayling High School.
Coach Moore said he saw the job opening and decided to pursue it.
“I’ve coached youth travel soccer for four years, two seasons a year. Kind of felt like a natural fit to do it,” Coach Moore said.
“Now let’s just have a season,” Coach Moore said.
As of Thursday, August 13, the Michigan High School Athletic Association had not yet authorized the sport of boys soccer to begin playing games. “Decisions about competition timelines for (boys soccer) will be made by August 20,” according to the MHSAA.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHSAA suspended and later cancelled the end of the 2019-2020 winter sports season, and the MHSAA cancelled the 2020 spring sports season in April. As the MHSAA attempts to guide schools back into sports for the 2020 fall campaign, the association has grouped sports into three categories – “lower-risk,” “moderate-risk,” and “high-risk” – and offered different sets of regulations and guidelines for each one.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association lists boys soccer as a “moderate-risk” sport.
For the 2020 boys soccer season, the MHSAA has eliminated scrimmages (except for “intra-squad scrimmaging”), instituted a four-team limit at tournaments, and informed schools that “spectators will be limited based on future guidance from the governor’s office,” according to the MHSAA.
Other guidelines for games, according to the MHSAA, include: “No pre-game and post-game handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps. All equipment should be cleaned and sanitized after set up and before contest. Face coverings be worn during the captains meeting. Sanitized back up balls should be available and should be rotated in regularly. Players should use hand sanitizer before entering and when exiting the game during substitutions; no hand touching allowed during substitutions. Create additional space if possible between officials and sideline benches. If benches are used for subs, maintain physical distancing. Limit captain meeting to one athlete per school and officials, maintaining physical distance.”
The MHSAA says soccer teams can “practice as normal.”
“Contact and intra-squad scrimmaging can occur. We ask that coaches be cognizant of trying to keep some physical space between athletes when they are not in active participation during a drill,” according to the MHSAA.
Coach Moore said conditioning was a major focus of the first week of two-hour practice sessions.
“We’re going to move for two hours. I want to get them to move. With the lower number of kids they’re going to play a lot of minutes,” Coach Moore said. “Conditioning this week. Next week we’ll start working on positions.”
Coach Moore said the squad had 15 players as of the first week. The group has several returners and some new players coming up from the youth league ranks.
“Because of the pandemic, no foreign exchange students. That will hamper us a little bit. We’ve got solid numbers. Everybody here’s played soccer before. We’ve got experience,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said the early practice sessions went well.
“The attitude is great with these kids. They seem to be having a good time,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said he watched a lot of film of the team from last year and he’s familiar with the players from his time as a youth soccer coach, so he expects a lot out of the current group.
“I want to see some confidence, some growth in them. I coached most of these kids in youth soccer so I know what they’re capable of,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said his goal for the team is “to compete with everybody. I want to compete in every game and have a chance to win every game. That’s my goal for this year.”
As of Thursday, August 13, the season opener for Grayling was slated for Monday, August 24, at 5 p.m. at Benzie Central High School. The Vikings have a home game scheduled for Wednesday, August 26, at 5 p.m. vs. Suttons Bay.