By Nicole Maneatis
The winter sports season has officially begun, giving students the opportunity to take part in girls and boys varsity soccer, girls and boys varsity basketball, and girls and boys JV basketball seasons. The winter coaches have big plans, they said –– including improving the organization of schedules and procedures.
Girls varsity soccer had a difficult season last year despite the players’ and coaches’ skill, potential, and effort. This was due to factors out of their control. Girls soccer coach Whitney Wood said that there were two big challenges the team had last season.
“The first being we had a lot of injuries, and there were [also] times when we did not have a lot of subs, if any.” The other [challenge] being the team was very young; we had a lot of freshmen, which was good, however, they [had] to learn to play against juniors and seniors, who were bigger and faster,” Wood said.
Wood and many others are particularly excited because the tides have turned this year, bringing the team more skilled players as everyone comes back from last season more experienced and prepared. The circumstances of last season were quite the opposite of this year, where they have gained only one freshman,Rachel Farhoudi, who plays for the Mountain View Los Altos club team. In addition, the girl’s soccer team now has seven seniors, compared to none last year.
“A good, realistic goal is being middle of the pack,” Wood said. “I think we can beat Eastside Prep, Mercy San Francisco, and I think we have a good chance of beating Harker. We were close last year, but with more experience, we can do it.”
Similarly, girls varsity basketball is also flourishing despite the fact that they lost five top performing seniors last year. They’re coming off a NorCal state championship as well. The good news for this year, though, is that they have gained new freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who bring new skills, making it a team with great potential. Girls basketball coach Doc Scheppler sees another big season.
“This particular year, I think this team has great potential and we should, as the season goes on, become a very good basketball team –– one that I would compare to the last few years’ teams,” Scheppler said.
The biggest challenge for the team is the loss of last year’s seniors, like Stanford commit Hannah Jump. However, Scheppler is confident the new team will work hard and rise up to the same playing level, Scheppler noted.
“The main difference between our team last year was that the [seniors] that graduated were terrific shooters,” Scheppler said. “Our whole goal as a coaching staff and as a team was to really work on [shooting] and those skills [during the off-season practices]. Based on what I have seen during practices, [the girls] are doing quite well and whether that translates into games is unknown, however, what I have seen is impressive.”
Scheppler is also implementing new strategies to compensate for a different set of skills among the team. Although the team is known for domination and excellence, Scheppler’s favorite part of practice is watching the team grow. He says the most important part of being a coach is to take a look at the big picture.
“I like players who live and die by improvement, and [I like] seeing them grow, not only technically and tactically, but mentally [seeing] them becoming an athlete,” Scheppler said.
Boys soccer has high expectations after having a winning season last year, despite losing star senior Neel Khattri. Current seniors including forwards Cadmus Balkanski and Peter Schusser, midfielder Nate George, and left back and captain Carter Brady are expected to make a big impact on the team’s chances.
Boys basketball is also expected to improve greatly as seniors Tyler Riches and Austin Farhoudi and juniors Gabe Santos and Kiki Bailey come into their own.