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Changing of Soccer Season to Winter Enables New Opportunities for Spring Athletes

Jimmy Murphy

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Sophomore Madison Ayson knew from a young age that she could run, and the first indication of her talent came early.

“I started playing soccer and I realized that it was really easy to run by players,” she said, a statement that is actually true for many track athletes today at RHS, not just Madison.

As a matter of fact, when Madison became part of the 4x100m relay team at Granite Oaks Middle School that broke the school record, all three of her teammates, RHS sophomores Laura Chaney, Katelyn Kleczek and Jessie Ruffner, also had a background as competitive soccer players.

For these girls and many others with strikingly similar stories to tell, soccer can be seen as a vital part of what led them to be the successful track runners that they are today.

There was just one problem. For many years, Rocklin High has had their girls soccer and track seasons both coincide over the spring.

This led many girls, on and off the relay team, to be faced with a difficult decision; Going into their freshmen year of high school, a choice between soccer or track seemed inevitable.

Of the four members on the Granite Oaks relay team, only Jessie Ruffner decided to refocus her attention on basketball and track for freshman year, while the rest of her team committed to soccer.

For Laura Chaney, the decision was not an easy one, “It was a hard decision because I felt like I really excelled in both at the time, but then I realized that there are more elements in soccer that you have to understand than track and soccer has the full package of running, anyway.”

As with Laura, the general feeling for most of these athletes was that losing a year of fine-tuning soccer strategies would be more detrimental than missing a year of track, which would be much easier to get caught back up in.

However, it seemed unlikely that any girl soccer player would have another track season to catch up on anyways. Until soccer season moved to the winter that is, allowing athletes the option to participate in both.

This was great news for sophomore Jaclynn Pineiro, a long jumper and sprinter previously faced with the same soccer/track dilemma.

“Since we are able to do both sports, I will definitely continue doing both soccer and track, and I hope to thrive in both sports equally,” she said.

However, managing even one sport, not to mention two, can take its toll on athletes.

Outside of school soccer, Jaclynn’s club team plays most the rest of the year, and adding track on top of that leads to almost no time left for the body to recuperate.

Jaclynn believes the lengthy back-to-back commitments she has been facing may have played a role in leading to her ACL tear during soccer that she is now recovering from. “In that game, I got really tired really fast… just doing a lot of things at once tires you out really quick,” she said.

However, sprints Coach Roosevelt Kent believes that doing multiple sports actually reduces the chance of injury in athletes.

“I think it will lower their risk,” he said. “Research has proven that kids who do multiple sports are training different muscle groups, so they have a less chance of getting injured.”

This isn’t to say that Kent does not appreciate the drawbacks of overuse and long-term fatigue in regards to athletes’ health. As a matter of fact, in planning his own workouts, Kent is very proactive in considering the soccer commitments many of his runners are facing simultaneously with their club teams.

“I work in conjunction with [my runners’] club soccer coaches and I modify my workouts to reduce the chance of injury,” he said.

Despite the difficult task of managing these two sports, both coaches and athletes seem excited for the upcoming seasons.

“Competitivism has went up, and our level of teamwork has went up, not only from soccer players but basketball players too,” explained Kent, when asked how these new athletes affected the program.

For an already phenomenal and cohesive track team, such positive news could lead to groundbreaking new achievements. After all, it is that final teamwork attribute, so often overlooked in the field of individual sports, that truly seems to drill to the core of any organization.

“In all the relays, you have to have so much trust in the other person. You have to know when they are coming, and you take that trust and you just go for it,” said Jaclynn, seeming to speak for all her relay teammates about their many races together.

Perhaps when it all comes down to it, the only thing more satisfying than being back on track for these athletes is also knowing they have got a whole team that’s got their back too.

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