A big build up for Sum­mer Games

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The next four weeks are big ones for the Avalon fe­male soc­cer Sum­mer Games team.

There is plenty of prepa­ra­tion for the ath­letes as they get set to show­case their tal­ents on the New­found­land and Labrador’s great­est ath­letic stage later this sum­mer.

There’s new parts of the game to learn as much of the team are com­ing up from the un­der-12 level where they don’t use the full field, along with po­si­tions to get a han­dle on.

Still, coach Paige Coombs is see­ing con­stant im­prove­ment from her young charges.

“I’m work­ing on plays where some of them have only played on half field,” she said.

Coombs had 25 fe­male ath­letes vie for 16 spots on the Avalon team. It was a com­pet­i­tive three try­outs as she dwin­dled down the num­bers and came up with the squad she feels is best suited to have a good show­ing.

Avalon will square off with some of the best this prov­ince has to of­fer when they travel to Con­cep­tion Bay South for the NL Sum­mer Games Aug. 13-16. They’ll play their games on the field turf at the Top­sail Soc­cer Field.

It’ll be dif­fer­ent than what they’re used to in Har­bour Grace, but they have some ex­pe­ri­ence there.

“The play­ers play a lot of Metro games on the field we’re us­ing for the Sum­mer Games,” said Coombs.

Mem­bers of the team are: Shelby Drover, Sarah Daw­son, Emma Tet­ford, Hailee Hoyles, Abi­gail Hussey, Re­becca Sel­lars, Al­lie Drover, Kiera Legge, Erika Roul, Aliana King, Cassie Drover, Erica Butt, Han­nah Doyle, Kiera Power, Mack­aila Jensen and Ha­ley Mae Dawe.

A will­ing­ness to learn

Sports are based on suc­cess mixed with a healthy dose of fail­ure. For those still learn­ing some of the finer points of the game, soc­cer falls into that cat­e­gory.

At the team’s prac­tice last week, there’s plenty of times when the ath­letes take a lit­tle time to ad­just to what they’re learn­ing.

But, that ad­just­ment pe­riod is short and they’re quickly per­form­ing the drills at a solid pace.

That im­por­tant de­sire to keep im­prov­ing and get­ting bet­ter is there as the team’s train­ing en­ters the home stretch.

It’s some­thing that’s im- pressed Coombs.

“They have a will­ing­ness to learn,” she said. “You can see them get­ting bet­ter ev­ery time out.”

Com­ing to­gether

Teams for the Games are usu­ally a mix­ture of play­ers from dif­fer­ent mi­nor sports or­ga­ni­za­tions.

That can lead to some early grow­ing pains as ath­letes have to get used to each other on and off the field. In to­day’s world, it might not be as much of an is­sue as be­fore but it’s still there.

For Avalon, there was an ini­tial feel­ing out process for the play­ers, but that’s quickly dis­si­pated as the weeks have rolled on.

“At first, they were a bit sep­a­rate, but now you can’t tell they’re from dif­fer­ent places,” said Coombs. “They’re com­ing to­gether.”

The coach has a sim­ple wish for her play­ers when they en­ter the Games arena. She wants them to take ev­ery­thing in and en­joy the com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence — in­clud­ing the Ath­lete’s Vil­lage they’ll call home for three days.

“I just want them to have fun,” said Coombs.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Avalon team mem­ber Sarah Daw­son heads a ball dur­ing prac­tice last week.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Mem­bers of the Avalon male soc­cer NL Sum­mer Games team get put through

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