Remember in Little League when everyone got a trophy – this year is a little like that. Everyone who played varsity soccer for the local teams this past season certainly deserves high praise and gratitude for accomplishing the biggest goal in 2020 –following safety protocols and keeping everyone safe.
It was just over a month ago that the season was in jeopardy of even getting played, and there were plenty of doubts whether it could be pulled off and plenty of folks who felt it wasn’t worth it. Anyone who watched these young men compete in varsity soccer this past season knows it was well worth it.
“It was scary; it was nerve-racking,” admitted Skyline head coach Chris Morgan. “We were filled with doubt because we didn’t know if we were going to have a season. You’re hopeful, but at the same time, you never know if the MHSAA or the AAPS is going to say no.”
Morgan was proud to see his team come together and rise above the uncertainty to perform at the highest level. The Eagles edged a strong Dexter team to reach the District finals before losing to Saline.
“I think all of those days of unknowing created angst, but it also brought us together,” Morgan said. “That was one of the things that we shared with this group, that common bond: ‘we got one more day boys, and this is awesome.’”
In terms of the challenges of this season, Dexter head coach Drew Ducker and his coaching and training staff were “very proud” of the boys.
“Of course, there were a few small hiccups in adapting to such strange times, but I credit our boys for leading the way in the soccer community,” Ducker says. “The message from our staff to the boys was very clear. For training, masks on once you got out of your car, temperature check and google form filled out, hand sanitizer, gear socially distanced, and then they could go on the field.
Each Dexter player had their own pinnie and players avoided touching cones, and only touched the balls when necessary.
“Outside of a few players forgetting their pinnie, the boys were great in doing what we asked during training,” Ducker says. “For games, the boys did a great job from the start. When announced, players socially distanced. The boys kept their masks fully on as best as they could. We would remind them at times, but overall, they were great. We set the expectations high as the staff and I felt it was important to lead the way at the school and in the community.”
On the pitch, Dexter won the SEC White, defeated Huron in a District opener before losing 2-1 to the talented Skyline Eagles. The team was led by a strong group of seniors.
“The seniors worked hard, played their hearts out, and made the best of the strange circumstance we all are in,” Ducker said. “They adapted, like all of our players, but I know how hard it was for them being their last year. I do believe that they enjoyed it and it was nice to still get a season in and also honor them at senior night. For all the players, there were some great life lessons this year and I hope they take away a few them as I believe it will make them stronger, both on and off the field.”
Pioneer head coach Jon Sundermann said having a season was important for a number of different reasons, including a social connection that we as humans crave and need.
“Fortunately, it was able to be done the safest way possible based on what was known at the time – masks, distance, outdoors, sanitize,” says Sundermann. “We had some of the most consistent, high number turnouts during the summer sessions as I think the kids were looking for that outlet.”
And it was always more than just kicking a ball around and scoring goals. The 2020 season was so much more than playing a game.
“It provided an opportunity to have frank and honest discussions about personal – and group – responsibility in order to give ourselves the best possible chance at a season,” Sundermann said. “I think it also brought a different, more visceral sense of camaraderie that we were all in it together and what a privilege/gift it was that we had this opportunity.”