Adam Wilcox is constantly developing his high school soccer team in preparation for the 2019 season.
In just the second year as a soccer program at Chanute High School, Wilcox, the CHS soccer head coach, has over the summer been organizing 20 or so players in conditioning and soccer drills at the Chanute Community Sports Complex. And the reasoning, of course, is to build team chemistry ahead of the 2019 year — a year coming off of a 7-7-2 regular season record, as well as a first-round playoff exit after a 1-0 loss to Topeka Hayden and a campaign that can potentially portend postseason success for years to come.
“In our trainings over the summer, it has been a lot of team chemistry stuff and we are still just a second-year team,” Wilcox said. “So we haven’t spent tons and tons of time together, even our varsity guys. Our varsity guys have only played one year of soccer. It’s kind of been fundamental stuff, possession and getting the hang of playing with each other. Getting to the point where we know each other is going to be on the field.”
Aside from team chemistry and destroying any schisms that come with not playing together, the goal is to instill toughness and increase endurance levels before regularly scheduled matches on 120-yard soccer fields across the state of Kansas.
To achieve these characteristics, the second-year CHS soccer coach has been coordinating stretches, warm-ups, team keep-aways, and a half-hour or so of soccer drills: finishing in front of the net, working the middle of the box, picking out a runner, and putting the correct weight on a pass.
These warm-ups and training have been leading to five-on-five and six-on-six scrimmages using half of the soccer field, which has been the majority of the time taken at each of these practices.
“It’s just like playing games against each other, so they figure out how to work together,” Wilcox continued. “The best way to learn soccer is to play. We spent a lot of time playing against each other and figuring out the different combinations of players. Who attacks well together and getting new guys in defending roles with starters from last year that fill in areas of need.”
With Wilcox halting official soccer activities the last two to three weeks, the team has been meeting with the CHS cross-country team at the Chanute Recreation Center. The two teams have been running together and engaging in other fitness activities.
And while the team has been participating in soccer-related work and fitness activities since the beginning of the summer, the DeSoto native said he needs to see more with his 2019 soccer program.
“I’m not impressed right now because we haven’t done a whole lot yet,” Wilcox said. “Hopefully, in a month and half I’ll be super impressed and that’ll be based on what we’ve done. We have a really big senior class and really big sophomore class, and a lot of guys I am counting on to be leaders. They showed up to a lot of stuff this summer. And that’s what you have to have from your leadership groups. Then there are a lot of guys that came out and they played a whole bunch, and they are better now than what they were two months ago, and they’re way better than what they were 12 months ago. They’re definitely a group that has come out and worked real hard, which is great to see.”
Working extremely hard out of the gate as expected is Jacob Adams, who is one of the more skilled soccer players on the Blue Comets team. Wilcox said he will be heavily relied upon to score most of the goals in the 2019 season.
Noah Crapson is another player who has been working diligently in training and practices. Wilcox said Crapson is a player who will push the futbol team over the top thanks to playing almost every minute. He is the central piece on the back line.
Underclassmen who have made leaps and bounds are Stark Wright, who last year was tasked with playing 10 minutes or so here and there, but this year will be counted on to play much of the game. Thomas Ramsey is in the same boat, too.
Other players who have been standing out are Andrea Cuin and Kaia Barkman, who has participated in every workout and practice to date.
Resolving any soccer issues for all players — whether a boy or a girl — is Wilcox’s daily work, and he does it with clarity and aplomb.
The Blue Comets will be gearing up for their first game Friday, Aug. 30 versus Independence.
“It’s a Friday night game, so hopefully it pulls in a bunch of people to come watch,” Wilcox said. “We are working on pushing it back so varsity starts at 7 (pm) and JV will start at 5 (pm), which would be awesome on a Friday night.”