“I'm looking forward to playing games the most.”
In any other year, Presbyterian College men’s soccer coach Jonathan Potter’s remark would seem rather obvious.
Not, however, the Year of the Pandemic.
“We haven't played a meaningful, competitive game since our semifinal game against Campbell back in 2019 so it's been a long time,” Potter noted. “We've trained a lot and made strides to get better but just the opportunity to play a game is huge.”
At times, it must have seemed to the fifth-year coach that the season would never … start.
After a fall of watching the team playing only among itself, Potter said, "We definitely had a few positives come out of the fall, first the team came together really well, they developed core values and specific goals for the fall. In terms of building team chemistry and trust among one another was incredible to see. We had a lot of time to spend in those areas where, in a normal fall, you're focused on the next game, and sometimes you miss over those details. I think the other big takeaway is the guys really understand how the team wants plays in all areas of the game compared to where we were in August.
“The freshmen were very fortunate because they've had four months to develop. Those guys have gotten way stronger and fitter, and I truly believe they will perform much better in the spring season compared to what they would have done in the fall. Another thing for all of them is you can't discount how well they've adapted being put into a new setting. For them to figure out all of the outside-of- soccer demands and have that time to develop on the field will be great for them moving forward.”
Another result of the COVID-19 outbreak is the team – and school, for that matter – taking an extended break between semester.
"We put together an 8-week physical program where the guys have the opportunity to weight-lift as well as do speed and condition drills four times a week,” said Potter. “The other part that we are really excited about is we are going to try and do weekly Zoom calls as a coaching staff with the individual players with hopes of also doing team calls so we can go over some team concepts.”
The pandemic, though, has changed team preparation in many ways.
“We had to adapt a lot and we had to change our mindset for what a normal practice looks,” “aid Potter. “We really felt in many areas that we took advantage of the challenge, such as in our strength and conditioning, our speed development standard and many physical qualities.
“We spent a ton of time it and the guys have gotten way better. On the field it's allowed us break down specific elements of how we play and really get into the fine detail of what we need the players to do. Of coursec you want to be playing and you want that competition, but this 3-4 months of development time has been awesome. This has been by far the biggest challenge as a coaching staff, but our guys have been awesome and everyone here has worked really hard to make this happen.”