Cole Lewis, junior psychology major, had to jump up and down with elastic bands attaching his feet to his opposite shoulders in an x-shape to prepare for a soccer match almost six months away.
The obscure workout was just one of many during the Bulldogs’ spring exhibition season thought up by assistant coach Scott Sinclair.
“Some of his exercises are unusual,” Lewis said. “His workouts are really tough, but you can tell he knows what he’s doing.”
The spring period is 45 days long with 24 allotted for practice. Since the soccer season is in the fall, this period is important for helping players and coaches stay sharp and get more reps in practice. This gives some of the guys a chance to step up and show that they’re ready to take some leadership.
It’s also a time for players who didn’t play as much the year before to get more time in the scrimmages and practices since the seniors from the season don’t practice and the new recruits haven’t come in yet.
This led to some interesting situations for the team because they don’t currently have a goal keeper on the roster.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge,” Clovis Simas, head coach, said. “Matt [Kesler, last year’s keeper] broke his leg right before we started so we had to do our best without one.”
In one scrimmage against Bethel University they had Clayton Martin, senior sports management major and former midfielder for Union, play in goal. For their scrimmage against University of Memphis they had to borrow a keeper from their opponent.
Finishing a great run with a goal gave the Bulldogs trouble last season, and not having a keeper makes it more difficult to overcome that problem in practice. However, Simas said not having a keeper allowed them to focus on the players in the field much more than he even hoped for.
They primarily worked on the midfield, becoming more cohesive and getting a better feel for their teammates. This helped them put together a solid effort against Memphis losing 2-0 to a Division I school.
Losses aren’t usually a good thing, but the ability to hang with a team that tied the #12 team in the nation of Division I is impressive.
The team has at least one keeper committed to Union for next season, and Simas hopes to have another one or two on the roster before the season.
Lewis is excited about the team’s chances this upcoming season citing the potential they had last season and keeping a good core from that team. He also believes his teammates and himself will be more sharp because a lot of guys plan on playing on club teams over the summer. This will give them more experience, keep their skills sharp and should benefit the team.
The summer will be key to the Bulldogs’ success next season because the players are responsible for working out, staying in shape and practicing on their own. However, it won’t be like last season when it felt like they were an entirely new team that had to learn to play together on the fly.
“We lost some really good players,” Lewis said. “But we didn’t really lose the core of the team. We’ve played together for a season, and now we’re much more comfortable with each other.”
The strange workouts won’t hurt either.
The team plays in a scrimmage at Union University today, starting around 6:30 p.m. against Freed-Hardeman.