Anchorage High School soccer is off and running

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 11:01 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With some outdoor fields still covered in snow, the high school soccer season has kicked off in The Dome.

Schools are now three weeks into the soccer season and the goal this year is clear: score as many goals as possible and make it to the end of the season without having any major COVID-19 outbreaks. Currently, there are several COVID-19 precautions in place for student athletes.

“In practices, players have to sign a COVID form every day and take a temperature,” said Service High School soccer coach Dan Rufner. “Make sure they are feeling good for that day and obviously, we are wearing masks and little things like every player has their own player penny for the year.”

Games in The Dome look different this season as well. Benches are on opposite sides of the field and there are no spectators allowed. That has to do in part with The Dome’s capacity limits that would be easily overrun if fans for both soccer and track and field were allowed inside.

Just like in other sports, players are also required to wear a mask at all times, which for some players was an adjustment.

“At first it was awful, but you start to get used to it and it’s not that bad anymore,” said Hatcher Manning, a senior on the Service boys soccer team.

Possibly the change with the biggest impact is that the Anchorage School District isn’t allowing swing players, according to some ASD coaches. This means a junior varsity player can’t also play with the varsity team and vice versa. This makes for some challenges for the smaller teams in the district that would usually have players split time between both the JV and varsity squads.

“It is great to be back, you know, that is the number one thing just to be playing again after missing the season. Everyone is so excited,” Rufner said. “It is definitely a challenge this year. Numbers didn’t come out and so a lot of programs are hurting on numbers, especially non-soccer players who have lost interest over the year.”

No swing players and low numbers can make for some challenges that coaches aren’t used to for the year, but the players that are on the pitch are just happy to be kicking it once again this season.

“We are just really grateful to be able to come out here and play together,” said Kellen Beam a senior soccer player for the Chugiak Mustangs. “We weren’t sure how things we going to go this year. We are just ultimately happy to be out here and have some games this year.”

According to the ASD soccer schedule, soccer is supposed to return to outdoor games on April 19, but as of right now, most if not all of the fields in Anchorage are completely covered with snow. This could lead to a much longer indoor season, which would mainly take place in The Dome.

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