SPRINGFIELD TWP. It’s good to get away … but the season is still approaching fast for Springfield senior soccer player Rachel Rodenbucher.
Rodenbucher, one of the veterans on a very young squad, has been working throughout the offseason in open field sessions and conditioning, but as the Spartans’ first scrimmage approaches, she and her family are headed out of the country to vacation in the town of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
While it’s a vacation to a tropical location, getting a lot of sun and sand doesn’t mean Rodebucher is going to spend the whole week kicking back in a beach chair.
“I looked it up, there’s place to go running there. I can’t leave the place we’re staying because it’s fenced in, but I’ll go running every morning because the day I come back is the first week of the preseason,” Rodenbucher said.
The team she leaves as she goes on vacation is one that skews extremely young. The Spartans are four years into their run as a varsity team and are still focused on adding players, which means many members of the roster are new to the sport.
On one of the final days before Rodenbucher’s vacation, half of the 10 players at conditioning were newcomers to soccer.
“We did ball handling with cones and ladders and then we were teaching the newer girls who are here to play about the different positions,” Rodenbucher said. “They’re confused right now and we’re trying to figure it out … we have our first scrimmage the week I come back, so we’re going to put them all in and see where their level of play is.”
During part of the session, head coach Rick Engelhart sat all 10 down on a wooden picnic table near the practice field to go over strategy. He explained that games are typically won and lost in the midfield and that the Spartans need to be both smart and strong in that area if they want to compete well this season.
According to Rodenbucher, the goal is to have 25 or more players on the roster, which should allow Springfield to have both a varsity and junior varsity team this season. That will provide more playing time for everyone and those who need more experience before stepping up to varsity won’t have to be thrown into the fire immediately.
Still, the senior captain is determined to do what she can to help those new teammates acclimate to the sport.
“Whenever they have questions, I always try to answer them because I don’t want them to be confused or feel like they don’t know what’s going on,” Rodenbucher said. “Some of them have never played soccer in their lives, so we’re trying to get them used to touches and working together and learning how fast people need to run to passes.”
Going away on vacation so close to the start of the season poses some challenges when it comes to staying sharp, but after spending a month out of the country last summer and coming back right before soccer season, Rodenbucher believes she can keep herself relatively ready to play and come back with her mind and game on point.
“Last year I had the same thing happen to me because I was in Germany for a month, but it’s not that bad because I condition when I’m on vacation. When I jump back into it, it’s a little shaky at first, but I get back into it pretty easily,” Rodenbucher said.
Once she lands back in Ohio, there won’t be a lot of time to prepare for the season and if the program is to continue its recent momentum and add more wins to its total this season, everyone on the roster will have to be as prepared as possible for a season that will present plenty of challenges.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB