To The Editor:
Congratulations to the Washington High School soccer team on its great season. As a 1983 grad of WHS and a member of the first high school soccer team in Franklin County in September of 1981, I was thrilled for the guys and coaches as they continued to build on the program’s success this year.
Most area sports fans probably aren’t aware of soccer’s early years at WHS. It was 36 years ago Alan Bell and a group of motivated parents went out on a limb and started the team in the face of tremendous resistance from the athletic department. At the time WHS was known for its winning tradition in football and the only soccer played in town was organized by the parks department for elementary and junior high kids.
The first year, our team wasn’t allowed to practice or play games on school district property due to athletic department politics. So, after school, a bunch of young new drivers would “rat race” in our cars through town to the city park to see who could get there first; we were stupid kids, and in hindsight I’m surprised we didn’t hurt anyone. We had little support from the school, poor fields and facilities (yes, I know what crab-grass is), and no showers or locker room. But, we had a great supportive coach, great parents, and lots of energy and enthusiasm. We didn’t know any better, we just loved the game. Needless to say, we didn’t have a winning record; we couldn’t compete with too many varsity squads but did OK against JV teams.
My favorite memories from that team: listening to the 1982 World Series on the radio on the bus coming back from a game north of the river, watching Ben Hansen throw his hip into a guy to send him flying (often with a whistle or yellow card following the play), and running hills in the wet morning grass at early fall practice at SouthPoint School my senior year.
The Blue Jay team in the Class 3 final at the Soccer Park reminded me a little of our team: We may not have been the most skilled players on the field, but our heart, teamwork, toughness and athleticism took us a long way.
I’m very proud to have been a part of the WHS soccer program, and even prouder of the young guys I watched last Saturday.