It has been said that titles are made with hard work in the summer, but Atchison High School soccer players are mostly focused on staying sharp and having fun for now.
Lady Red head coach and Redmen boys assistant coach Alex Zanatta worked with Alex Supple, Redmen boys head coach, to organize the second summer shootaround event on Monday at the Atchison Public Schools USD 409 soccer field near Atchison Elementary School.
“Summer is a huge opportunity to get a head start on fitness, get extra touches on the ball, and see what the rising freshman class is going to bring to the table in August,” Supple said.
With about 30 players turning out on Monday, the shootaround featured an informal round-robin minigame tournament, various drills and finally a co-ed AHS scrimmage with boys and girls on each team.
“We know that anytime we have the kids out playing soccer together, we know goods things will come through that,” Zanatta said. “They’re building relationships as a team and we’re building relationships as coaches with the players. It’s good for kids to be out with their peers and building a love for this sport.”
In addition to the incoming crop of freshmen and returning leaders, the event featured contributions from graduated seniors, including former team captains Kadejah Ross and Hannibal Vick.
“Now you’re seeing our kids who are about to be seniors step up and follow their example, preparing to be leaders,” Zanatta said. “And our alums just enjoy contributing to the program, it’s great to have them here.”
Supple said student leaders will be key to competing this fall. With the graduations of talents including Vick and Steven Jolly, team captain Nathan Sowers and senior Cameron Ayers will need strong teammates.
“It will be crucial that my sophomore and juniors with varsity experience step into leadership roles on the field,” Supple said.
The boys have about two months left to get ready before the season begins in earnest, with a road opener set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City. Their first home game follows at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at the district soccer field near AES. The girls compete in spring 2020.
“It’s all about keeping the feeling of the ball fresh on the foot,” Zanatta said.