‘Back on the field’: Middle school soccer embarks on season, sets goals


Photo credit: Kim Smith

A group of middle school soccer players warm up for practice on the back field. “Everybody is really brought together by soccer,” Walker said. “It’s super easy for us to connect about one thing, which branches into fun and interesting conversations.”

By Jullie Cach, Staff Reporter

After two years, the middle school soccer team is back on the field and have started their season. Tryouts began Nov. 9 on the soccer field and their first practice as a team was held Nov. 18. The team is split into three teams: A team, B team and a practice team with about 20 players. Head coach Narayan Nagalingam coaches the A team and Katherine Walden coaches the B team.

This season, Director of Athletics Kim Smith coached the middle school soccer team for half of the season until January with Narayan back to coach. Stepping in as the temporary coach, Smith wants to focus on bringing the team together and working on fundamental skills.

“I think bringing them together as a team, helping them to get to know each other’s players and starting to build their team defense and ways for them to work together,” Smith said. “Last year being deprived of being able to be a team and play, now they’ll get to be together and work on developing their skills.”

Eighth grader Lila Bigalow recalled how practice compared to this school year and how much closer she has gotten with her teammates.

“I remember always being socially distanced and we weren’t really doing anything. Now, I feel like I’m making friends with a lot of people,” Bigalow said. “In COVID, I feel like we’re all a little more separated because there were a lot more rules put into place. Now I’m connecting with my team which is helping me grow.”

Seventh grader Autumn Walker has played soccer for 10 years and this will be her second year playing for the middle school team. She said her hope for their season while talking about how the team worked last year in terms of rotations of players during practices and games.

As a team, we really want to make sure we play our hardest because last year was really hard because it was in and out. People weren’t there, people were there,” Walker said. “It was unpredictable. So this year, we really want to come together and make sure that we at least win one game or two.”

Last season, the team had between 14 to 15 players. With the increasing number of players this season, Smith said she was excited to see middle school students joining soccer.

“With an increasing number of players, what it tells me is that middle school athletes are eager to [be a] team and to be a part of a team and to try. Some are trying soccer for the first time and some are already established soccer players. So it is so exciting to me that so many of them want to be a part of Archer soccer whatever level they’re at,” Smith said. “From that, we get to grow and we get to build and so it’s a gift that we have over or about 60 soccer players in middle school.”

Smith reflecting on her goals for the soccer season said she hopes to unify the team and allow every player to get to know one another’s strengths.

“My hope for them is to, in terms of chemistry, get to know each other as players. If you know a certain player and learn each other’s strengths so that they can play to each other’s strengths in practice and in games,” Smith said. “With this, I look forward to seeing what they accomplish together this year.”