GIRLS’ SOCCER PROGRAM FORMS BONDS ACROSS TEAMS, GRADES

Billy Buelow, Sports Editor

“The only story this year is COVID-19.” This statement is surely echoing through the heads of all athletes that will get no spring season to look forward to, no matter what age or what sport. For Prospect’s girls’ soccer team, the thing they might most miss is the possibilities this particular team had.

“The best part of this team is the potential and the unknown,” said head coach Tom Froats. “With so many players not having played together such as the very talented group of underclassmen, Isabella Hubrich, Hannah Samuelson, Maddie Cowen, Claire Beattie, Kaylee Naughten, Jackie Keane, Kaela Salehzadeh, Grace Martin, and Caroline Johannesen, the potential was huge.” 

Another thing that set this team apart was the leadership from players such as Ashley Behles, Ashley Erickson, and Isabelle Suto.

“They are a wonderful nucleus or core of talented players to have as the foundation in building this year’s team,” said Froats. The upperclassmen stepped up in the off-season to build the team bond, and thanks to them, “the team bond has grown in leaps and bounds.” 

Abby Behles came up with the idea for a team building “lock in” type of event right after getting back from the 3 day IHPP (Illinois Human Performance Project) summer conference at Illinois Wesleyan last June. She was invited to go with five other juniors and seniors by Tim Wolowiec to represent Life Of a Knight, and to learn from other schools on how they can better educate students at Prospect to lead a healthier life to improve their success in school, sports and extracurriculars. 

While at the conference, her and Wolowiec had quite a few breakout sessions and discussed how they could bring some of the things we learned at the conference back to our clubs and activities. About the time that this school year started, she knew that she needed to step up and change some of the things that she saw needed fixing in the soccer program. 

Abby has been a part of the soccer team all four years, and knew that sometimes the younger teams can get overlooked by the varsity team. Especially in the couple years prior, she felt like she barely knew anyone on the Freshman and JV teams, even though they were all a part of one program. That’s why she decided to come up with an idea where the upperclassmen would get the whole Program together on a Saturday morning for an hour in place of some practice time to do team building activities, with all the teams mixed up. This way it would force everyone to get to talk to one another and get to know each other, and would also make everyone feel like they are an important part of the program. 

The purpose was to make all players realize we are all one soccer team, not four separate teams. Luckily, she got two of her close friends, Erickson and Suto, who are on the same team to help her plan the event, and they organized each team to have an even number of freshman, JV1, JV2, and Varsity players on it. The rest of it just played out.

 A big part of the “Knight for Each Other” event that she planned was “big sister little sister.” When she came up with the idea to have the lock in, it sounded like a great idea, but she knew that we needed something else throughout the whole season to make everyone feel included and welcome all the way until the last game. This is why they organized “big sister little sister,” and they paired one girl from each team together to get eachother little gifts and motivational quotes before each MSL East game. This way each player would feel motivated and again feel like an important part of the soccer program. They passed out “big sister little sister” pairings right after they got done with the three team building activities, and the whole event ended up being better than she could have ever imagined. 

While there are no games to be played this spring, or practices to have, the bonds the upperclassmen have essentially created will last much longer than a spring. If the next step up is this bond, it can be implemented every year, and this will create players that are great leaders, role models and more importantly great individuals, on and off the field.