Monday, 14 September 2020 15:11

Larsen, Richmond soccer gear up for voluntary workouts

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ROSports File Photo: Chris Larsen plans on starting boys' soccer workouts later this month. ROSports File Photo: Chris Larsen plans on starting boys' soccer workouts later this month. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Despite seeing his boys’ soccer season pushed to a January start, Chris Larsen isn’t missing a step this fall.

The third-year head soccer coach at Richmond Senior High School is planning to get his Raider players out on the field by the end of the month for voluntary workouts. Larsen’s decision comes after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association opened outdoor training sessions to up to 50 people last week.

“It’s going to be a lot nicer to get a large group of guys together,” Larsen said of the new participation bump. “This will allow for the team’s chemistry to be built, and allow the guys to get accustomed to seeing skill level they’ll play with.”

Going off past seasons, Larsen said there are usually 30 varsity players and 35 junior varsity players who consistently attend offseason workouts. He said that the new limit of 50 people per session gives each group some leeway in developing for the upcoming season.

Larsen hopes to have the boys’ soccer teams working out starting the week of Sept. 28 and will release more details on social media in the coming week.

“I’m hoping by that time (the NCHSAA) will release us to do a little bit more in workouts,” Larsen explained. “My numbers should allow JV and varsity to work out together, and we can hopefully get back to what we would normally do in the summer.

“The biggest thing is making sure we abide by all the guidelines,” he added. “The group of guys you want to see working out together will be there, and if we have to, we will split into two groups.”

The main focus of voluntary workouts is for the Raiders to develop team chemistry and work on conditioning drills that would otherwise be done during the summer months. In the coming weeks, Larsen hopes to be able to allow his players to compete in small-sided scrimmages, which he said is most beneficial.

“Soccer is really more of a game of adapting on the field and learning on the fly,” Larsen said. “The more we can get guys playing together in a game scenario and learning what to do in different situations, the better off we’ll be.

“We’re just waiting on the ability to play in those small-sided games.”

The boys’ soccer season was moved from its usual August start to a January start, with the first day of practice slated for Jan. 11. While he’s excited for there to be a shortened 14-game schedule planned, Larsen is concerned with how the late start overlaps with the girls’ season, which officially begins on March 1.

The mixing of the two seasons, Larsen said, creates some scheduling issues, especially when looking at making sure both the boys’ and girls’ programs get equal time to prepare for their respective seasons. Last spring, the Lady Raiders only played five matches before the season was canceled.

“I’m glad we have a schedule, but I don’t understand the overlap. It’s going to make it hard for me to give 100 percent to the boys during their season, while also doing the girls a disservice while trying to get their season started,” Larsen said.

“With the overlap, I’ll get the boys rolling along this month and get the girls cranked up to before the end of the semester,” he added. “That will give the girls about a month and a half to get some workouts in. We’ll just make the best of it.”

Another concern about the upcoming seasons is the shortened amount of time to play and the possibility of losing games to weather. Larsen said he is “praying for some good weather” in order to get as many of the boys’ and girls’ games played.

ROSports will publish the soccer schedules for both programs in an upcoming article.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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