Soccer now ranking third in girls’ sports, has become one of the most popular sports played by adolescents in America. (Shane Monaghan). Organized woman sports teams started in the nineteen-seventies and ever since the growth of soccer for females has dramatically increased. Although the women’s teams were mostly national or college level, it spiked the interests of many teens. The total number of American high school soccer players has more than doubled since the nineties (David Litterer).
Because of America national soccer teams ranking highly, and video games like FIFA, Soccer has become one of the fastest growing sports in America (Matthias Kunz). Now there are over three million players between ages five and nineteen in the United States (David Litterer). In 2006 Tahlequah High School hired their first official female soccer coach, by the name of Gregory Hall. Hall was a young Jamaican man, who had just graduated from North Eastern State University on a scholarship to play for their college soccer team.
According to Hall, when he was offered the job to coach the high school soccer team, he initially thought he would be coaching the boys team. Even though, when Hall found out he was going to be coaching girls he was skeptical, he has now been the Tahlequah high School girls’ soccer coach for ten years and says, “although there’s been some rough times I wouldn’t trade the girls team for any other. ” In 2011 Tahlequah Public Schools started their first middle school soccer team. Since only about twenty girls wanted to play, everyone who tried out made the team. One of the girls who joined the team that year was Laudan Hatami. I heard about the formation of the team during a school assembly,” says Hatami.
She said, the coach had made an announcement that if anyone was interested in joining the first Tahlequah Middle School soccer team to stay after the assembly and sign up. She admitted she had never played for a soccer team before, but she was interested because she had always bonded with her father when kicking a soccer ball around. Hatami has now been playing soccer for Tahlequah Public Schools for six years now, and says being a part of the Tahlequah High School team has changed many things in her life.
She has “learned about different muscle groups how to strengthen and stretch them, also how important your health and staying active can be. ” She said being in soccer has helped her selflessness, sportsmanship, confidence, and endurance. Over the past few years the number of girls interested in playing soccer at Tahlequah High School has increased. This is likely because of the middle school team teaching more girls how to play, or because of the varsity teams’ recent records.
Either way the team has started to cut players from the teams, meaning, that only a select few will be a part of Tahlequah High School soccer each year. Halls says, to increase your chances of making the team you need to “be coachable, to enjoy being a part of a team, and to take the positive criticism and be able to apply it to your skills. ” He says even if you don’t make the team the first time you try out, to keep practicing whether it be a recreational team, or just practice kicking a ball around in your backyard.
He says, any practice will help and increase the likelihood of making the team next year. Practicing, says Hatami, is the way she improved her skills. Something her coach calls “muscle memory, which is repeating the same task over and over you eventually will recreate the action out of reflex without thinking about it. ” She said she started playing in middle school, and she probably wouldn’t have made the team if there had been tryouts. After hard work and a lot of practicing, she made the high school varsity team by her third year of playing.
The Tahlequah High School soccer team has now been academic champions for several years. Being a part of a team that encourage you to stay in school and keep your grades up is just another positive thing about belonging to Tahlequah High School soccer, says Hatami. “The team encourages each other to keep their grades up, the upper classmen often offer their assistance to younger girls in academic areas. This is how we continue to be academic champions every year,” says Hatami. She says she has known many girls that say the only reason they still went to school was to play soccer.
Even for Hatami, she looks forward to playing because she gets to “forgets academic stress and just relax. ” Hatami says, being a part of Tahlequah High School soccer is special because most of the girls on the team have been playing with each other for a long time, so there is a certain chemistry that, cannot be found in any other group of people. She claims her team encourages her to not give up, to keep working hard and push through even when things get tough and seem impossible.