The Brookings United soccer team has gotten a jump on their soccer season despite the foul weather that has many other teams longing for sunnier weather.
Utilizing The Rink, the roller skating rink located on Railroad street in Brookings, the team began, on Tuesday, to practice the skills needed for a successful season.
The athletes, both boys and girls, are divided into two teams based on age, with a U11 team that is made up of fifth graders who are 10 and 11 years old, and a U12/U13 team that has kids age 12 to 13.
The teams are drawn from local recreational leagues and play on a traveling schedule in tournaments all over the state.
The coaching staff includes team co-creator Jess Beaman as head coach of the U11 squad and Chaulene Worthey leading the way as head coach of the older team. Brian Carlson assists both coaches.
“I just wanted to have something for the kids to do,” Beaman said. “That’s why I started the team.”
Carlson agreed that it is nice to have something for the kids to do, but there is something more for him.
“I want to develop soccer players and human beings,” Carlson explained. “We’re trying to teach them some skills, and I enjoy working with the kids and watching them grow as players.”
All three coaches have children who are on the teams and, according to Worthey, having everyone in the family involved makes the time involved more manageable.
For many of the athletes involved, the traveling aspect of the team is what is most exciting.
“It’s really fun, and cool, to be able to play against people I don’t know,” 11-year-old Austin Fronckowiak said. “I’m learning to handle the ball, how to pass and shoot correctly.
“It’s a good experience, and fun to travel.”
The team will play in a number of “small-sided tournaments” consisting of 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 6-on-6 matches, due to the number of athletes they have available at each age group, according to Worthey.
“We just don’t have the numbers,” she said. “We’re a small town; most of these kids are multi-sport athletes.”
Fifth-grader Jonatan Zebadua loves it.
“It’s my favorite sport,” he said. “Because I’m the most accurate at it, and I get to play with my friends.”