women soccer
Despite having no competitions this semester, the Women’s Soccer team continues to practice safely. Photo from 2019-2020 season.
Photo provided by MU Athletics

Women’s Soccer Team Embraces Unique Opportunities of Season 

Claire Butler

During this challenging season for all sports, the Manchester women’s soccer team has been successful in staying motivated and determined despite their lack of competition this fall.

Head Coach Christine Johnson says: “Most other teams across the country are dealing with the same obstacle so it’s just a matter of keeping perspective and creating your own opportunities for competition within our team training.”

The team has been able to continue practices and training to make the most of their extra time before season starts in the spring. With this extra training time in the fall replacing the usual game time, the women’s team has looked for the positives in the cards they have been dealt.

Junior Madison Shepard says: “This gives us a unique opportunity to train for months versus weeks before games begin. We are able to become closer as a team and create more chemistry before our season officially begins.”

Rather than throwing away fall practice time the team has been working twice as hard on the field and including all the athletes to bring a strong united front to the spring season. With practices still going there have been concerns about staying safe from Covid-19 and ways that players can safely participate in soccer. Athletes have to keep their distance during the practices, meaning that the usual high-fives and competing in contact have been eliminated from their day-to-day lives for the time being. Still there’s camaraderie.

“Our team has responded extremely well to the ‘new normal’ and they have been committed to getting better each day,” Johnson adds.

In addition, each player, coach, and athletic trainer is required to wear their mask at all times. The players have also been doing more individual drills and for drills where more athletes are involved, they are able to stay six feet apart. Every athlete has their own water bottle, penney and ball to avoid sharing and any unnecessary contact. They have been following the NCAA guidelines to ensure the safety of each and every athlete and coach.

“It hasn’t been difficult because our players are thankful for the opportunity to be back together as a team and are willing to make a commitment to keeping everyone safe and healthy,” Johnson says.

With a strong group of determined leaders guiding the team through the difficult adjustments, the motivation to do their absolute best on and off the field as has been steadfast and inspiring. Despite the season being pushed back, the distanced practices and multiple changes to their training schedule, the women’s soccer team has been fiercely motivated and focused on training to become the best athletes they can be. They have taken the opportunity for extra training time before games and not only trained hard, but also created a welcoming and hardworking atmosphere for their team.