Chieftain soccer players receive prime summer instruction
The season officially started Monday for the Tonganoxie High boys soccer team, as it was the first day of fall practice.
Some Chieftain players, however, have been no strangers to the soccer field in recent months.
THS players Alex Nowasell, Josh Nowasell, Zach Mayse, Jake Poterbin, Tyler Woolworth, Kyle Johnson, Ryan Brammer, Jake Woolf, Eric Lowe, Mitch DeHoff and Jamison Bloomer competed in the Sunflower State Games last month in Topeka. Addie Phelps and Jordan Gagne played on the team as well. They'll play in the spring on the inaugural Tonganoxie High girls soccer squad. In addition, Derek O'Brien, who graduated last May from THS, played on the team, which went 1-2 at the games.
The Tonganoxie squad defeated a team from the Topeka area known as the Home School Boys, 5-3. Tonganoxie's two losses were, 1-0, and 6-2, to other Topeka squads. The 6-2 loss was against a team of Topeka Hayden players, THS coach Ken Lott said.
"I think the kids enjoyed it," Lott said. "I think it gave me an idea of what to look forward to as far as play goes."
The squad had even more success during a summer league at the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth. Playing in a 6-on-6 league, the Tonganoxie boys squad won the league with a 7-0-1 record. Boys teams from Leavenworth High, Immaculata and Basehor-Linwood, along with Tonganoxie and Piper girls teams, also played in the league.
The same boys team members who played at the Sunflower State Games competed in the league, along with Tyler Sparks. Johnson and Lowe didn't play in the summer league.
The girls team consisted of Gagne, Phelps, Makenzie Armstrong, Taylor Colgrove, Lana Dominguez, Kendra Walters, Shannon Smith, Lindsay Gonser and Brittany Harbour. They didn't have the success the boys team enjoyed, but Lott, who also will coach the girls in the spring, said they performed well for their first competition.
"I was pretty pleased with what I saw and knew what I needed to work on," Lott said.
To top it off, a former professional soccer player from Europe conducted a camp with about 10 or 11 of the boys team members. Robert Shields, who is from Wales, provided instruction to the Chieftain players. Lott said he went through Challenger Soccer, a British soccer camp, to land Shields. The instructors normally stay with a host family, which Shields also did. The Welsh soccer player stayed with Bloomer's family.
"We learned quite a bit from him," Lott said. "I was pretty pleased with what he did with the kids."
THS players possibly will learn from Shields again next summer -- in England.
"He invited us over to Wales for this next summer if we can make it over," Lott said.
The Tonganoxie coach said his team likely would start some fund-raisers in hopes of making that trip next year.
If the trip came to fruition, Lott said the journey would be a "once-in-a-lifetime thing for the kids."