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The Blue & Gray Press | September 23, 2018

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Sports and childhood: A varsity athlete shares soccer

Sports and childhood: A varsity athlete shares soccer

By GEMMA SPICKA-PROFFIT

Staff Writer

Every summer, millions of children across the country are let out of school and left with much more free time than they previously had. One way that kids can utilize this newfound time is to play sports. Summer sports leagues are easy to join and fun for the whole season. These summer leagues are made possible by all the passion and hours that are dedicated by the coaches.

Katie Rauch, a senior on the UMW Women’s Soccer team, is one of these coaches. This past summer, Rauch began coaching for Soccer Shots. This organization works with kids ages two through eight in developing early soccer and team building skills. She specifically worked with kids ages three through five. She loved the job that mixed two of her favorite things: working with kids and soccer.

Rauch has been participating in soccer camps and teams since the age of three, and she fell in love with the sport early on. “It had crossed my mind several times to be a coach,” states Rauch, “and I have had really good coaches who told me that I could be a leader.” Her past mentors and coaches have been her inspiration for wanting to be a coach herself because she wants to share her knowledge and love for the sports just as it was shared with her.

Coaching could certainly be challenging at times, especially since the kids of such a young age were very often very easily distracted. Despite its challenges, coaching is a very rewarding job. Rauch says her favorite thing about working with kids is being able to see how much they improve from when they first arrive until their last day, and how she gets “to watch and help the kids grow throughout the season.” It is satisfying to see all the hard work that goes into coaching result in the smiling faces of the kids when they accomplish something for the first time.

According to an article published by ESPN, 60% of boys and 47% of girls are involved in at least one organized sport by the time they are six. This statistic is not all-inclusive because some children begin sports earlier than age six, but it is indicative of the popularity of sports in children. It is important to get kids active while they are young because healthy exercise habits often carry through to adulthood. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that participating in sports in adolescence a few times a week was associated with a high level of physical activity later in life.

Organized sports are important for more than just teaching the skills of playing and exercising. Kids can learn many other important values and characteristics through participation on a team, such as confidence, respect, leadership, and social skills. For Rauch, she says one of the most important things that she has learned through sports has been time management. Since she has never taken a season off, she had to learn to balance a busy schedule of school work with hours of soccer practice every day.

Sports are a great way to meet people who are a similar age and have similar interests. Additionally, many children growing up are introduced to a diverse group of people through sports that they may not have met or interacted with outside of their team. Friendships forged while working together on a team have been known to last a very long time. In more recent years, Rauch has also come to appreciate the networking benefits that have come from playing soccer. “Many girls on my teams have gone off to play at colleges, so I have many connections at different universities which could lead to different job opportunities,” states Rauch.

Rauch is enthusiastically looking forward to her last season at UMW. She says “I’m feeling really good about our season. We have a lot of new freshman coming in, and we have a really strong team of focused girls.” The Women’s Soccer Team was picked to place fifth in the annual CAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll this year, and Rauch is feeling motivated and eager to prove them wrong. Above all else, she wants the girls on the team to have fun this season, and she knows that being close-knit will be really important for their success as a team.

The Women’s Soccer team will host their first two home games this weekend. They will play Huntingdon College on Saturday, September 8th at 12:30 PM, and they will play Berry College on Sunday, September 9th at 3:00 PM.

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