Junior varsity (JV) for both girls and boys soccer have so far gone undefeated this season and for the past few seasons. The winning streak is a result of JV’s work towards playing on varsity, and usually this work goes unnoticed because they are not the highest level team. But by working hard on JV it will eventually pay off into playing on varsity.
Most athletes just want to skip to varsity for the recognition, but that is not always possible because there are skills to improve upon before reaching that level. “I think JV helps build the path to go to varsity…it just helps develop your skills…varsity is tough competition so you need to make sure you’re ready for that,” said sophomore Ronak Bhatia. Freshman Trinity Lujan said, “I think by playing on JV and just getting more time and getting more experience playing in high school and against other teams is good for [making] me better” about her experience playing on JV.
While the athletes work on their skills, it is up to the coaches to also help prepare them in this process. “My goal is to first look at the system that varsity plays in and make sure that they are fitting into the system that will best suit the team…” said head girls JV coach Kim Rygiel about the skills she works on.
But for the coaches it is not all about the skills; they also work on the culture of the team. “For us, a big thing is culture; we want to make sure they work hard, they pick up their intensity, they play more physically, and they play quicker,” said boys JV assistant coach Alex Martinez . As well as culture, coaches also focus on athletes’ mentality. “They need to have the work ethic to step into the faster passing game for varsity… [be] willing to dedicate themselves to the program and to their teammates, and just create a positive environment,” said Rygiel.
With JV’s current winning streak, coaches and athletes think that the varsity program will become better in the upcoming years. “But I definitely think that the culture we are creating and we have is going to keep that legacy and keep having good results on varsity,” said Martinez. Bhatia said “I think that over the next few years we will get better, bigger, faster, stronger, and our skills will get better, so yes; I definitely think our varsity will get better”.
Soccer athletes’ work may go unnoticed at the time while on JV, but as they improve and become varsity players, effort but it will all be worth it.