For soccer players, there are few ice-breakers more effective than taking the field.
Members of the State Fair Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams, during the first week of practice, can claim an activity unique to their campus: the Missouri State Fair.
Roadrunners head coach Jaime Beltran said a night enjoying the college’s namesake was built into the preseason schedule.
“It will be fun for them,” Beltran said. “But, right now, they need to have fun doing what I tell them.”
Student-athletes trickled onto campus last week and began training Sunday with a fitness test. Classroom sessions and a trivia night also helped get the conversation started.
Communication, an emphasis during drills Thursday, is key to transforming a collection of players into a team. Beltran said snapping a team photo in freshly-assigned jerseys also helped establish an identity.
“It’s the one day I know they’re all clean,” Beltran said.
With 17 returners and more than 20 incoming freshmen, there is significant competition for playing time on the men’s side.
Beltran commended the team’s positive approach to the challenge, so far, and noted that more student-athletes living in SFCC’s dorms may help maintain team unity.
“We’re still in the honeymoon stage,” Beltran said.
Associate head coach for women’s soccer Dan Martin said building relationships outside of practice translates to better communication on the pitch.
“Everybody left something or had some kind of sacrifice,” Martin said. “You have to have them relate, start building that chemistry. So it’s good to have the classroom sessions so they know who they are, and why they’re here.”
Make no mistake, both SFCC programs are training hard. Martin said he tested the Lady Roadrunners’ endurance Thursday to observe how the group plays fatigued.
“Believe it or not, we hit the field first,” Martin said.
Martin added that he hopes his players take advantage of their night at the Missouri State Fair.
“It’s unique,” Martin said. “They get to come to a campus that’s literally on the fairgrounds. I hope they can go over there and experience it. You’ve got bunnies and horses and cows and sheep — they’ve never seen those types of things. It really showcases the showcases Sedalia and the community, and I want them to be apart of it.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.