Many athletes face pressure in their respective sports
Many athletes face pressure in their respective sports
Elena Garcia Van Auken

Getting an A in sports

West high presents unique challenges faced by student athletes.

As the spring soccer season starts up again, the pressure and excitement for tryouts increases. Players have been working all year to show their skills at West High tryouts to make the team, and coaches’ expectations for their teams are higher than ever. 

As a first-year girls soccer coach at West High, Zach Serovy has high expectations for his future team this season. 

“I want the bar to be high. I don’t want to start the bar really low and then have that be the standard that’s set. I want the standard to be elevated from years past.” Serovy said. 

This year, Serovy is changing the pace for the girls soccer team. He is implementing different tests to assess their strengths within dribbling, passing and overall endurance to make training more intense. 

“We’re [testing] a lot of different areas that they’re going to need for the soccer season,” Serovy said. 

Unlike the boys soccer team, the girls tryouts are held after spring break, allowing them to go on vacation during the break. However, there are optional practices to keep players in shape and ready to go for the season. Lauryn Hynek ’26 acknowledges that going to these optional conditioning sessions will help with overall fitness. 

“I feel like it’s better if you want to [go to optional conditioning], like start getting in shape to start, really locking in for the actual tryouts,” Hynek said. 

However, she also notes that players can get by without these if they have a good fitness level to start with. 

“Since they are optional, it doesn’t harm you. As long as you’re doing workouts when you’re on vacation, doing a little running here and there; you should be fine,” Hynek said. 

Although it’s up to the players on whether to attend voluntary workouts, Hynek decided she is going to participate. 

“Personally, I don’t miss them, just because I like to make a good impression, especially since we have a new coach this year,” Hynek said. 

This new test for the girls isn’t unfamiliar to the boys team. During the first few days of spring break, the boys endure track and soccer workouts to get them in better condition. The last couple of days are dedicated to assessments of their conditioning and soccer abilities. For example, Nathan Heenan ’24, a varsity soccer player, says they must run a 6:30 mile to make varsity. 

“Most of the kids just run behind me and I set a six-minute pace. And I’ll get the last guy in my group to be done at 6:30,” Heenan said. 

Other evaluations —dribbling, juggling, and passing through a series of cones— are more skill-based. Brad Stiles, the head boys soccer coach, notes how quantifying some metrics gives the players something to work toward. 

“Someone doesn’t make a team. And we can point to this, this and this. It’s a lot better than ‘Hey, you didn’t make a team tryout this year. See you later,’” Stiles said.

Stiles adds that due to the sheer number of athletes who try out (around 80), these tests are necessary to find the right students for varsity, JV and JV2. 

“It’s those last few roster spots and the JV2, if we really think someone is [good] we want to give them a season to develop and see what happens,” Stiles said. 

Because the soccer team can only keep around 60 players, the coaching staff often decides to cut upperclassmen who cannot make JV. This is because they want the opportunity for younger players to develop through JV2, and make higher teams. 

“It’s not something that we want to do as far as cut players. but we can’t have rosters of 30 kids, especially at the lower levels, Stiles said. “It’s a necessary evil, unfortunately, the cutting process.”

“It’s not something that we want to do as far as cut players. but we can’t have rosters of 30 kids, especially at the lower levels. It’s a necessary evil, unfortunately, the cutting process.” 

— Stiles

This puts a lot of pressure on the students, but Heenan emphasizes how his club team, Iowa Soccer Club (ISC), has helped him prepare for high school soccer. 

“Club soccer prepares most people really well if you take it seriously,” Heenan said. “I think that it’s developed me, and most of this team has gone through ISC as well.” 

However, Heenan notes that the emphasis during club soccer is different than at the high school level. 

“At ISC, we focus on building out of the back and working on developing our skills,” Heenan said. “At high school, when we come here to play, we just want to win. We just care about making it to state and trying to win state.”

Having coached for ISC as well, Stiles notices the difference between club and high school soccer. 

“As far as making them more skillful, I don’t really see myself doing that in a 12-week period,” Stiles said. “I have to be able to pick the right group of guys that I think is going to win, and I gotta be able to teach them how to win and do it the right way.” 

The pressure athletes face during the offseason is also different from in-season play. A player only has to make two practices during the summer and winter leagues, whereas practices during the season are two hours long plus weight lifting. 

Heenan adds that the conditioning they do during the season is more intense than at club soccer. 

“Running is a thing that we don’t do at our club,” Heenan said. “We do it at West; every Monday you have to run sprints in a certain amount of time because our coach is very into conditioning and staying fit for the season.”

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About the Contributors
Yaya Orszula, Sports Editor
(she/her) Yaya is a senior and this is her second year on staff. She is the sports editor and enjoys running cross country and track, making bracelets and rock climbing.
Anna Gibson, FOJ Intern
(She/her) Anna Gibson is currently a sophomore and this is her first year as a FOJ intern. Anna loves to play volleyball and hang out with her friends
Elena Garcia Van Auken, News Editor, Social Media Co-editor
(she/her) This is Elena's second year on staff. This year she is news editor and social media co-editor. When she's not at school she is either working, reading or listening to music.
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