The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

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Friendship and inclusivity allow Wakefield’s women’s soccer to thrive on the field

Caroline Rhoad
Madi Gross dribbles away from pressure to create opportunities for an attack. The chemistry among her fellow teammates helps the offense thrive.

The Wakefield women’s varsity soccer team is ready to work hard and win big this spring. Last season’s strength in teamwork allowed for the girls to achieve an overall record of 11-9-2 and a conference record of 7-4. This season, they already have an impressive record of 6-4-1, and are headed into conference play strong. The close nature of this group brings out the best of each player, contributing to the team’s success on the field. 

Before the season started, the players participated in pre-season traditions to help create an environment of acceptance and friendship. These small get-togethers can range anywhere from going to a restaurant to participating in a volleyball game. They also allow for any new players to introduce themselves and become comfortable with the team before the season begins. Sophomore Bailey Chapman shares the importance of the connections and activities the team has when they are off the field.

“Every year we go to [El Tapatio] and we always have some type of pick-up game before the season starts,” Chapman said. “That way we can all get used to each other and meet each other.”

To add to these pre-season traditions, the team also engages in many exercises during the season. Head coach Tommy Retzlaff fosters a team environment that is filled with inclusion. The main way he accounts for this is through the non-soccer events that have been implemented into the season. Through monthly gatherings, players can strengthen their bonds while still getting to let loose and have fun.

Retzlaff addresses his team during halftime to talk strategy. The communication on this team is crucial to their success. (Caroline Rhoad)

“Every month we do a social gathering and play games,” Retzlaff said. “Regardless of where each girl fits in the soccer scheme, they all come together and have a good time.”

A major factor in the creation of this inclusive and positive environment is the dedication of the captains. As one of the three captains, senior Ava Johnson puts her best foot forward to ensure her teammates have fair opportunities. 

“We try to make sure everyone is included in practices, we always split up the teams evenly and give everyone a fair amount of playing time,” Johnson said. 

These efforts from the captains are particularly important in regard to encouragement. Freshman Sara Barlett felt a strong sense of guidance from older peers, as they helped her to continue to grow as a soccer player. 

“The captains are very encouraging,” Barlett said. “They give us a lot of advice, which helps us get better.”

The huge amount of support from all teammates, not just captains, is also a crucial contribution to the team’s performance in games. It promotes a sense of unity and boosts confidence, leading to better coordination on the field. This diligent yet cordial environment has the potential to take this team all the way to a championship. 

“What has been great this year in terms of inclusivity and how the players are feeling is the support and excitement from the bench,” Retzlaff said. “It is like having our own set of Wackos.”

One of three captains, Kailyn Swank, looks to clear the ball from the backfield. Her leadership is seen on the field as she communicates to her team. (Caroline Rhoad)

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