SHORT GAP - As Frankfort's boys' and girls' soccer teams approach the start of the 2020 season, they do so with polar opposite roster compositions.
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - As Frankfort’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams approach the start of the 2020 season, they do so with polar opposite roster compositions.
The Frankfort boys must replace the loss of six seniors that were the backbone of the program for years. The Frankfort girls, by contrast, have a roster composed of a majority senior class, nine out of 15 to be exact.
Regardless of the roster makeup, the Falcons have been hard at work in the pre-season preparing to make the most of a season that is already unlike any season before, and things haven’t started yet.
Obviously, we’re alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic that has struck the globe, impacting everything to include soccer season in Short Gap.
“It’s been very difficult, the major thing is that we’ve had a shortened pre-season. We had exactly 14 days to get in the required 14 practices for state eligibility. That meant if one kid was sick, one kid was missing, somebody’s car broke down, they were not eligible. Consequently, we lost a few kids as you always do. Therefore, we had to postpone our first game,” Frankfort boys’ coach Patrick Brett explained.
“We’ve been doing conditioning when we can, we’ve been doing practices when we can. We started, we stopped. Communication has been good, but the information isn’t there sometimes until the last minute, that’s the nature of it. There’s things that we couldn’t do like use the weight room and the gym, so it’s just been us outside running and using body weight. We can still get the work done, we have just had to find different ways to get it done,” Frankfort girls’ coach Chris Brooks stated.
The impact of COVID extends beyond the realm of just impacting pre-season preparation and training. One large impact has been on scheduling, where all Maryland teams needed to be wiped off the schedule, with only West Virginia teams remaining.
According to Brett, “The schedule has been decimated. We’ve lost the two teams from Garrett County and four teams from Allegany County for a total loss of six Maryland teams. Add to that Pendleton and North Marion who aren’t putting teams in and that’s eight games right away off the schedule. It’s basically just a very shortened season, playing local West Virginia teams.”
“We lost all our games against local Maryland schools, all those games are gone, and those were competitive games. Some of those bigger schools we haven’t competed against as well, but this year, I think we would have given them a run for their money. We still have our Fairmont games, and we’ve only lost one due to eligibility, but we’re going to try to reschedule it. We have also picked up Spring Mills, a AAA school,” Brooks stated.
In terms of personnel, as mentioned previously, the boys’ and girls’ squads are in different positions. The Frankfort boys’ squad is full of underclassmen, by contrast, the Falcons’ girls’ team has nine seniors on the roster.
“Not only have we lost such a large senior class, we’ve also lost a few to injuries, one of which was going to be our top man this year. We’ve also lost a few whose parents pulled them out. So, I’ve lost about 12 players this year. We have a very young team and a 15-man squad, I like to have around 20. We do have some exceptionally skilled freshman and sophomore players, so I am very excited about the future,” Brett explained.
“Well we lost five seniors which was definitely a big hit, but on the flip side of that, we have nine seniors this year. Our backbone will be returners Michelle Phillips on defense and Rachel Noah on offense. Other returners like Riley Hopwood, Halley Smith and Erin Clark are expected to be major contributors. We have about the same numbers as last year, and only one freshman who we are going to try in goal this year,” Brooks stated.
Both the Frankfort boys’ and girls’ squads project to have winning seasons this fall, and to have fun while doing so.
According to Brett, “First and foremost, I want to see the boys enjoy themselves. I’ve been stressing to them, we want to win, it’s never fun losing, but it’s also not fun if you’re not having a good time. For me, high school sports is about being competitive and winning, but it’s also about enjoying what you’re doing. We want to do as good as we can do and win as many games as we can, but we want to have fun while we’re doing it.”
“With the work that the team has put in even with all of the changes and uncertainty, I think we will have a good season. We have a smaller schedule but still play some competitive teams. We have mostly returning players so I'm looking forward to a winning season,” Brooks explained.
The year 2020 has disrupted pre-season soccer preparations no doubt. However, both the players and coaches have persevered, and with games beginning, Frankfort soccer looks to the season with excitement.