By Andy Ramirez
With the cancellation of our soccer season, a global pandemic, and a new head coach, Aidan Abolfazi, the team has had to adjust to many situations on and off the field. My teammates and I, Andy Ramirez, have found that life is no longer “normal,” but adversity is not a stranger to us as we continue to push through our difficulties. Although there have been many ups and downs, the Worcester States Men’s soccer team is focused on being ready for next season. The team has had to fill a void in their life due to the lack of playing soccer, but they have done a great job staying positive through these horrendous times. First, the news struck that there would be no friendly games allowed against other schools.
“I was disappointed as I was really looking forward to competing,” Manny Ramirez, a freshman midfielder commented. Like Manny, most of the team was disappointed to not get to play on the field again.
“I can’t wait to get back out there and do what I love,” said Luke Anu. “To be in game or practice, at this point I don’t care which one it is. I want to be able to just play.” The freshman midfielder’s comments came after news of spring practices for all teams being cancelled due to rising COVID-19 numbers on campus.
Naturally, this generated concerns by all of our teams about what their seasons would actually look like. Eventually the WSU Athletics responded to these questions about the spring season with the simple statement: “We’re back.” The situation, apparently, is getting much better on campus, allowing sports to resume..
“It means everything because playing soccer is one of the best feelings for me,” Noah Taymouri, a sophomore midfielder, said.
It has been difficult for many athletes to find a way to stay competitive during the pandemic. With practice beginning in just a few days for the team, I asked what they had been doing to keep themselves in shape and their competitive spirits high.
“I think the idea of being back on the field is enough to keep me in high spirits, and the lack of soccer I have been able to play makes it that much more motivational to me, ” Jon Dyer, a goalkeeper on the team said. He stays motivated by just being eager to get back on the field and practice with the team.
“The best thing to do is just try to exercise and keep the skills sharp with the hunger to win a championship in the fall,” said Vincent DeMattia, the senior captain and defenseman. The fall seems a long way away, but Vincent and I believe we should be well prepared for that time. The team hopes to be in good shape both mentally and physically by the time we get to play our first game in the fall.
“I expect to feel in great shape. Ready for action,” Bright Bremang, a junior forward, said when talking about how they would feel when we play our first game in the fall.
To be successful in the fall, we must be well managed and coached. Although we have not yet seen our new head coach, Aidan Abolfazi in action yet, the players had only nice things to say about Coach Abolfazi. He received praise for his actions after being appointed as head coach for only a couple of months.
“Coach Aidan has been great since I met him. He has really changed the program in such little time. Our shoe fundraiser goes to show that.” Sam Mattias, a freshman midfielder, said, praising Coach Abolfazi.
Players bought up how he has already shown us his commitment to us, by continuing to find ways to help the program like a fundraiser and creating an Instagram account.
“Coach has been awesome; he’s been on top of everyone about everything in school, getting out to work out, and fundraising. He is very involved, and saying that has made the team still feel like a team even though we haven’t been able to play with each other in a year,” Chris Hutchenrider, a sophomore goalkeeper, said.
The team feels that Coach has the tools to make this team successful, getting behind him by putting in the work on and off the field. Off the field times have been difficult and many people’s view of the world has changed.
“It made me value life even more because in one instance you are living a normal life then a pandemic hits and you have to wear masks everywhere and be cautious around people,” Ethan Paiva, a junior defender, said.
“A lot of bad things can happen to keep you shut away so I’m very thankful to have the chance to have some normalcy with soccer again, and we have to follow the rules so we don’t lose it again.” Alex McCormack, a sophomore defender, said, determined to be able to practice. Coach has also stressed to us that we must be careful and follow rules, as Alex stated, this way we can continue to practice and prepare for the fall season.
The team has had to be ready for change. We can’t wait to be able to play once again, really get to know each other, and see how well we work as a team. We await for Coach Abolfazi to lead us to great things on and off the field.