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Goalposts and goalies; football and soccer seek progress

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Goalposts and goalies; football and soccer seek progress

Hayley Koontz, 12 and Kara Ragan, 12

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Players dedicate their time and energy to athletic programs because they have a passion for the sport, according to Evan Cross, 12. Circle’s football and soccer teams are starting their 2017 season with the hope of improving on past years. Circle’s football program has not had a winning season since 2004, with a record of 5-4. Since 2010, the boys’ soccer team has had one winning season (in 2010) with a record of 2-1.  

Due to the fact that Circle is a 4A school, athletes often have the choice to play for different athletic programs who are looking to fill teams. Well-rounded athletes can choose between two or sometimes three different sports each season.

“Sometimes you’re recruiting kids away from other sports, and you lose kids to other sports. When they’re your key players, that makes it difficult for any program to sustain. The only way you’re really going to get those kids to say ‘well, I want to play football’ or another sport like soccer is, one, build a program that they’re going to enjoy being a part of,” Athletic Director John Coslett said, “and (two) building a team that is not just about wins and losses. You’ve got to have a team that kids feel they’re a part of, and that they enjoy being around those kids.”

Cross, who is a varsity wide receiver and defensive end, feels that when faced with the record of the football team in earlier years  it’s difficult to attract athletes to become part of the team.

“It’s really hard to get guys to want to come out every single day and want to (work hard) every single day when we haven’t been as successful as we want to be; that’s probably the main challenge,” Cross said.

Middle school coach Dan Rose believes some players’ decision not to play at the high school level is connected to Circle’s schedule in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League- III.

“In my opinion, we play in one of the toughest 4A leagues in Kansas. My first year of coaching high school football, six out of the nine teams we played that year made it to the second round of football playoffs,” Rose said. “I think success in this league will come slow and our high school team has to take small steps. Shoot for a winning season, but make the goal not measuring success in wins and losses.”  

In addition to the teams’ schedules, the amount of experience players have coming into the season has an effect on the success of a program, according to Caleb Page, 12.

“There are a lot of people who have never played soccer before, so you really have to start at the basics. I think having club (soccer) players would be nice. More club players would help the team play on a higher level,” Page said.

According to Coslett, some athletes transfer to play for different schools because they want to be a part of a winning program and feel that they have better opportunities for scholarships.

“(Athletes transferring to other schools) is a significant issue, and the reason being is that we’re in close proximity to all these other schools. When you have a school that is eight miles away or 15 or 20 miles away, it makes it easier for them,” Coslett said. “In my 20 years plus of coaching, I’ve never seen a kid have a better opportunity for a scholarship that transferred who wasn’t already going to probably earn a scholarship where they played. Unfortunately, what they need to realize is that they need to stick it out here and play for this school. They can make a difference and make this program a winning program.”

Cross feels that the football team’s dynamics have changed during his time playing for Circle.

“We’ve tried to do our own thing (in the past). We need to trust the coaches more, and that’s what we’ve been doing this year. We trust the coaches; they know what they’re doing,” Cross said. “I noticed when I was a freshman that leadership was always really negative and no one really stepped up. They were seniors and that’s how it was. Now everyone has a role and everyone knows their role. The seniors are very pushing, they motivate, and everyone wants to be there now,” Cross said.

According to Rose, players’ responsiveness to coaching affects the team’s performance.

“Some kids just really want to learn and so they listen to their coaches and study the game to gain more knowledge.  On the contrary, other kids don’t want to learn the game as much and they don’t believe their coaches can make them better,” Rose said.

Coslett believes coaching changes can benefit the team and create a better atmosphere for players.

“Sometimes (it takes) a new leader coming in and having guidelines, ‘This is how we’re going to act and treat each other’, and realizing that the most important person on the team is everybody else. When you have that one person who thinks that they’re more important than the team, that can really kill a team,” Coslett said.

Some athletes contribute to multiple programs. Page is a varsity goalkeeper for soccer and the football team’s kicker. Page is optimistic about the season ahead.

“I’m hoping for a winning season and to break more of my records, that’s a personal goal. It would be nice to win at least one Regional game,” Page said.

Circle’s increasing student population and new athletic facilities built in recent years provides new opportunities for teams to grow and a draw for athletes, according to Coslett.

“Our district is growing. It’s going to be someplace that people want to come. I’m hoping that people say, ‘Well, I want to go to Circle because, one, I have an opportunity to play, and two, I want to be part of something great,” Coslett said.

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Goalposts and goalies; football and soccer seek progress