Summer training making Wolves a more cohesive unit
August 5, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Rules prohibit high-school girls soccer coaches from having contact with their players during the majority of August, so what teams do in July can often be some of their most important work of the year.
Eastlake High School’s girls worked right up until the no-contact deadline, holding a three-day training camp July 29-31 to give returning players a chance to interact with newcomers.
Held under sunny skies and warm temperatures, the camp had a large turnout and could prove significant as the Wolves attempt to integrate their newest members.
“We have about 15 new girls that showed up at the camp, so it’s pretty promising, and tryouts are definitely going to be competitive come Aug. 25,” said Eastlake assistant coach Jacalyn Williams, who led the camp in place of head coach Chuck Krieble, who was on vacation.
Returning players and newcomers practiced together on the first day of the camp, but were split into separate groups for the last two days.
“That was really just to get people to start playing with each other, so they know how other people play,” said Melissa Radecke, one of the Wolves’ captains.
Most players saw playing time during the spring and summer with their respective select teams, but having dedicated training sessions for high-school teams are imperative so players enter the season in September with at least a basic understanding of each other’s abilities.
“You only have three months (in the high-school season), and it takes you a little bit of time to figure out how somebody wants a ball – if somebody likes it in the air or on the ground,” Radecke explained.
Radecke, a midfielder/forward, will be serving as a varsity captain alongside defender Clare Suter and midfielder Jodi Ulkekul.
The coaching staff is relying on that trio to keep momentum going in August, Williams said. The captains are planning to lead weekly fitness sessions during that time.
“We do ask a lot of them, and they’ve really stepped up this year,” Williams said of the captains. “We have some real strong leadership, and I’m excited for that this year.”
In regards to the incoming players, Williams and Krieble often get a read on them ahead of time by attending local select tournaments. The camp is useful in gauging their talent and fitness levels, Williams said, although the late-August tryouts are usually when coaches decide whether a younger player can contribute at the varsity level.
Radecke stepped onto the pitch and played with the newcomers in a short-field scrimmage that concluded the July 31 training session.
Quick passing and quality finishing were two of the main goals, as the Wolves attempt to create a more potent offense in 2014.
“Also we’re looking to bulk up our defense on varsity, so just looking at what people could possibly fill in those positions,” Williams noted. “But yeah, we’re looking to be a lot more attack-minded, so working on those formations and some technical drills, too.”
Radecke thinks the team could’ve been better last year if it had created and finished more chances, so players are conscious about being “goal-minded,” she said.
Despite some offensive droughts, however, the Wolves managed to finish fifth in the Class 4A KingCo Conference regular-season standings. They returned to the playoffs after falling short in 2012, the only nonplayoff squad in Krieble’s nine-year tenure.
“We’re definitely hungry for more – we want to advance further in the playoffs,” Radecke said. “Granted, we have a lot of talent, so I think it’s something we’ll definitely be able to do as long as we perform as well as we can.”
Williams believes 2013 was “more promising and positive,” and gives the players confidence heading into this season. The KingCo schedule will change, though, as Mount Si joins the conference and three nonplayoff squads from 2013 – Garfield, Roosevelt and Ballard – drop to Class 3A.
“We know that we’re going to be up against some really great competition,” Williams said. “But I think the girls are pumped and really looking forward to this season – just some really coachable, positive attitudes, so that helps.”