Wednesday, 30 September 2020 12:52

Raider soccer begins workouts, conditions ahead of winter schedule

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Left to right: seniors Cale Luckey, Jay Ammons and Jaxon Mabe work on agility drills during Tuesday's first team workout. Left to right: seniors Cale Luckey, Jay Ammons and Jaxon Mabe work on agility drills during Tuesday's first team workout. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The long-awaited sound of footfalls on Richmond Senior High School’s soccer pitch returned Tuesday.

For the first time since March, head soccer coach Chris Larsen hosted a voluntary team workout for the boys’ soccer team. The Raiders have seen their schedule impacted by COVID-19 and will play a 14-game winter season starting in January.

Prior to the varsity team workout, which had 19 juniors and seniors in attendance, junior varsity head coach Tad Hamilton welcomed in 25 rising sophomores and freshmen.

Among the returning varsity players were seniors Jay Ammons, Hector Castro, Johan Chavez, Cale Luckey, Jaxon Mabe, River Meacham, Karym Ojeda, Bradford Pittman and Bryan Stanback. Juniors Alex Medina and Luke Williams were also there.

Before entering the practice facility, Larsen and former head coach Bennie Howard, who serves as a volunteer assistant, checked players’ temperatures and asked a series of COVID-19 related questions.

“We spent a lot of time making sure everyone was signed up correctly,” Larsen said following the hour-long workout. “It was good to get everybody back out and see where we stand. It was a reality check of all of us taking advantage of being in the house. Today showed them what we have to do to get focused on the upcoming season.

“The guys seemed happy to see each other,” he continued. “We have to follow the guidelines and it’s hard to not bunch up and joke around. But in order to be out here, we have to do what the state and the county are asking us to do.”

Photo: Head coach Chris Larsen checks senior Bradford Pittman’s temperature before Tueday’s workout.

Larsen said he wanted to give his players a light first day back and ease into the rigor that will eventually become a full winter schedule. Players spent the hour working on conditioning, stretching, doing a series of jogging and agility workouts before ending with laps around the field and sprints.

Players were distanced six-feet apart down the sideline and maintained their social distancing throughout the workout with no physical contact. Larsen opted to not include any soccer balls, but said that will be coming in the following days.

“Today was good from a coaching standpoint because I could gauge where we are as a team and make workout plans accordingly,” Larsen explained. “Hopefully we can get back to some small-sided games soon.”

Part of Larsen’s plan to get his players working with soccer balls again is to “subdivide” his larger varsity and junior varsity groups. Outdoor workout guidelines allow for 50 people to attend one event, and with his numbers well below that, Larsen said it allows the use of soccer balls to be more manageable.

Within the smaller groups of three to five players, Larsen anticipates players to be able to work on passes, touches and turns while following the current restrictions. 

He was also able to purchase a new training net with the soccer team’s account that will allow shooting drills without the use of a goalkeeper. The guidelines require players to follow their own shots and pick up their own soccer balls.

“These first few weeks I want to really focus on getting the guys back in shape,” Larsen closed. “We’ll do a lot of fundamental work and anything else we do will be based on the guys’ physical abilities and their knowledge of the game.”

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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