South Tama County's soccer teams, much like everybody else, are ready for warm weather.
Both teams, along with other STC spring sports squads, have been forced to practice indoors for many days. They also delayed the start of their practices because of the weather. However, both teams will also be playing their first games next week.
On Monday, the STC boys squad will travel to Marion for its first official game under new coach Dmitriy "Dima" Shklyarov, who is the first-year head coach of the Trojans. Shklyarov took over for long-time coach Dave Chizek, who retired last year, but is still helping coach the Trojans this spring. Monday's game begins at 4:30 p.m.
"South Tama players are hungry for soccer," Shklyarov said. "That is why, even though we did not have all the time we needed to prepare for the season, we are glad to start as soon as possible.
"I am personally extremely excited to work with this team, for never before have I had a chance to handle the group of players with the best possible attitude (or should I say the attitude I understand and enjoy seeing). Never before have I had a chance to work with so many players I can relate to, in context of soccer, absolutely fantastic coach assistant and a group of managers."
South Tama's girls soccer team is once again led by coach Bob McBain. His squad began practicing March 18 and will play its first game on Tuesday at Collins-Maxwell. The varsity game will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by one half of a junior varsity contest.
"We're going to be struggling with conditioning," McBain said. "Everybody else is in the same boat. That's the one good thing. Our first game is with Collins-Maxwell and they're down on numbers as well. I talked to their coach and they are down to 16 girls right now."
Before both teams begin playing next week, they are hoping the forecasted warmer weather will come at the end of this week. They both want more outdoor practices after several days inside during the first weeks of the season.
"We started a week ago tonight and our first game is a week from tonight," McBain said. "We're trying to get outside as much as we can. We should be outside for the rest of this week as it looks like the weather is going to cooperate a little bit. It's affected everybody."
The STC girls were outside Tuesday for the third time all season. On Monday, the STC boys were practicing in the snow that was remaining on the field after the weekend's light snowfall. It was their fourth outdoor practice since starting March 11. Although it wasn't the best conditions, both coaches were happy to be outside on the grass.
"Playing on the ground and on the floor are two very different things," Shklyarov said. "Everything is affected - breathing, traction, kinematics of the motion and mostly importantly - the quality of the pass. I hope players realize that on the turf the ball will not be so easy to tame. Also practicing indoors resulted in several unnecessary injures, that would never happen outdoors. That's a very unfortunate issue."
McBain said his girls were happy to be outside, even if the field was wet and slightly muddy.
"They're glad to get out here and get things going," McBain said. "They want the weather to warm up just like everyone else. They've been very positive and working hard. They're very receptive to what were teaching them, so it's been good that way. The upperclassmen are helping out and teaching the younger girls. With this many, I can't always be where I need to be, so the upperclassmen are stepping up and helping me out. That's been very good. I'm going to need that going forward."
Each squad has a good number of athletes playing this spring. The girls' team has 23 players, while the boys' squad has 30 right now. Both squads are led by upperclassmen but many underclassmen will contribute this season.
Both coaches are ready for the season to start, despite not knowing how the lack of practices will affect the teams right away. They also both enjoy coaching and teaching the high school players.
"The whole focal point of my work here is to give these players knowledge and vision that will allow them to mesh together in the team with its own unique face, that will be recognizable, but different from the others," Shklyarov said. "I would like this team to become a headache for any opponent we are going to meet, regardless the final result of the game. I expect to witness the growth of several talented players in this team to the select level. Also I hope that this group of boys will change the perception of the game of soccer, and trigger much larger interest to this game in the school and community."
The STC boys will host their first home game on April 8 against Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans will host Aplington-Parkersburg on April 4 at the STC field, which is located west of the high school. Both games will start at 4:30 p.m.