AKRON — Tippecanoe Valley Middle School added a coed soccer program this past spring. The school board approved the TVMS soccer team in 2017 and two new coaches were hired — Gary Craft and Angie Lowe — who not only had prior coaching experience, but also were excited to start the middle school soccer program.
Multiple options for a new logo for the soccer team jerseys were created and voted on by students. The coaches had team callouts and more than 30 boys and girls in grades 6 through 8 showed interest in playing soccer during the 2017-2018 school year.
Open gyms were set in February and almost every student who signed up came to the fundamentals sessions. The coaches were well organized and planned great practices that not only taught skills, but also reinforced love for the game. The team jerseys came in the week of the first game and it was great to see the excitement of the players, most of whom had never played a competitive team sport for TVMS.
These students would now represent TVMS in its first year of middle school soccer. The emphasis on being a part of the school’s history was communicated every practice by the coaches with the intent to set traditions and expectations from the inception of the team. The team concept was discussed at every practice. It was exciting to see boys and girls compete for spots while working well with each other.
After a first-game cancellation due to inclement weather, TVMS’s first game was played against the Peru Tigers. Peru’s middle school team arrived and the TVMS parents, despite the very cold weather, all came out to witness their student-athletes make history. The referees whistled the ball in play and the game began.
The two middle school teams would play two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime. Nervous energy was everywhere. A Valley player fired a shot that hit the post and was quickly kicked out of the box by the nearest defender. Then it happened.
A quick steal and possession went to Valley. A through ball allowed the talented midfielder, Christian Ramirez, to shoot from outside the box and everyone watched as the ball exploded off his foot and quickly found its way into the top of the goal in the third minute. TVMS had scored the first of many goals in the team’s inaugural home game in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Valley scored again in the 17th minute and four more times before the game was over.
The TVMS soccer team went on to finish the season with eight wins, one loss, and one tie. For a first year team, this is a feat unheard of. For that, I want to thank our coaches for inspiring our athletes and allowing them to dream big; the players for being coachable and doing the work in practice that translated to results and goals in games; the school board and administration for providing the resources; and the parents for supporting the team and their athletes. Soccer is alive at Tippecanoe Valley.