Switching Sports

by Casey Lee

Volleyball to Soccer

Soccer players are the guys who aren’t big enough to play football, and are never recognized as the “star sports player.” Soccer is the sport that is pushed aside and prioritized under other, equally physical, sports.

“There’s definitely a European mentality towards soccer… not being physically as tough maybe as some of the other sports,” head soccer coach Travis Gatewood said.

All sports have their stereotypes. Football players don’t work hard. Volleyball players aren’t altheletic. Swimmers are all weak. Golf takes no skill.

In an effort to explore these stereotypes The Patriot sent two players to different sports practices so they could experience what it was like to play another sport.

Senior Megan McCaffrey switches from volleyball to soccer for a day.

When volleyball player Megan Mcaffrey stepped on the soccer field she was quiet and shied away from the group, but the team pulled her in and treated her just like one of the guys. They joked around and patted her on the back for encouragement.

“We started off by doing some drills and taking a jog. Then we scrimmaged C-team and we did more drills, and then we ran a grundle,” she said.

It’s drills like the grundle that soccer players are used to. A grundle is a full-out sprint to the 40-yard line and back a total of three times. The desired time for this drill is anywhere under a minute. Players who don’t complete the drill in less than a minute must do it again.

Grundles weren’t Mcaffrey’s only challenge. Simply passing the ball requires a certain amount of techinique.

“You have to use the inside your foot to pass the ball. It was tough because it didn’t always go where I wanted it to,” Mcaffrey said.

Boxler plays midfield and is used to passing the ball and setting up plays. He knows that one bad pass could lead to an opponents goal.

“The hardest part is a driven shot down the field that has to be precise on the ground to the other players dominant foot, so they don’t have to go backwards or make a bad touch,” varsity soccer player Dan Boxler said.

One of the biggest differences Mcaffrey had to contend with was the amount of running involved in soccer.

“Soccer you’re looking more at an 80 minute extended sport where there’s a certain amount of endurance that’s required that maybe isn’t used in volleyball,” Gatewood said, “I would say Megan showed marked improvement. She finished with a shooting drill and did an outstanding job by the end of practice,” Gatewood said.

Though Gatewood said Mcaffrey improved in just one practice, Mcaffrey wasn’t as convinced.

“It was fun for a day but I’m really bad at soccer so I probably couldn’t do it.”

Soccer to Volleyball

Knee-pads and skin-tight spandex covered varsity soccer player Dan Boxler’s tan calves and snow-white thighs, as he dove for the volleyball. He was the first thing to catch a spectator’s eye.

Before becoming a volleyball player for a day, Boxler openly admitted to his biased opinion about the sport.

“[Volleyball players] suck and aren’t athletic,” Boxler said, “I’m physically more fit, and [volleyball] isn’t a mans sport.”

Despite his open disregard for the sport, on the day of practice, the volleyball team treated him like any other player.

“They were very comfortable with me, they made me do the things that they were doing. They didn’t cut me any slack,” Boxler said.

After practice started Boxler quickly realized he was in for a lot more than he originally anticipated.

Senior Dan Boxler switches from Soccer to Volleyball for a day.

“What should I expect? To play volleyball and excel,” he said. “It’s a lot more jumping than I [expected] and [volleyball players] actually have to be somewhat physical. They have to be more precise in hitting than I expected.”

Boxler’s athleticism helped him through drills that involved speed and quick cutting. Just like jumping for headers in soccer, he easily jumped up to spike the volleyball. But he struggled with diving and getting to the ball quick enough.

“We started hitting the drills, it got very very difficult. [coach Goodson] was just hitting balls at me and I couldn’t serve back, it was just really difficult,” he said, “my top skill she told me was my fitness cause we did down and backs and I burned everyone, it was pretty nice.”

Head soccer coach Travis Gatewood said volleyball can help Boxler improve his soccer skills. He understands that each sport is different, but they all have their own physical aspects.

“I think the agility factors in soccer [are the same]; there’s tackles to jump up from [in soccer] so you’re diving around, and same thing with volleyball.  They all have to be agile and cover a lot of space on the court,” he said, “I think teamwork, especially [in] soccer you’re kinda coordinating a pass up and down the field, [in] volleyball you’re coordinating how to win the ball, set it up, then knock it back over.”

Throughout practice the girls worked together encouraging Boxler. They clapped, yelled, and cheered for each other after every drill, sprint, and scrimmage.

“They have a lot of team spirit and I like that,” Boxler said. “Go girls.”