STILLWATER – The soccer ball gets passed high into the air, a defender goes up to head the ball towards a teammate. He doesn’t see the pass coming and it is intercepted by another header this time though the ball gets hit into the air like a hacky sack and is controlled into a shot. The goalie dives across the net to make a sliding save. The crowd rises on both sides one side cheering, the other groaning a missed opportunity.
Sounds like soccer right?
Players going hard with the end result being to help the team to victory. Players getting exhausted because of the amount of ground they cover running from one end to the other. Coaches screaming out encouragements and instructions. Of course the soccer favorite a player putting his hands up acting like he got fouled and playing it up to the ref to try and get a call to no avail.
Well you may have missed it this weekend at Stillwater high school as it was the State Adapted Soccer tournament with both the Cognitively Impaired (CI) division and the Physically Impaired (PI) division.
What was described at the beginning was an actual run of action that happened in a state quarterfinal in the CI division. The action was strong and used a lot of strategy and quite frankly looked like a lot of fun and a very intense game of soccer you would play in the gym in high school.
So what is the big difference between high school soccer and adapted soccer
First off the ball is yellow and is partially deflated, so the risk for injury is lessened. The length of the field is also shortened to fit in a gym. The field fits in a space from 10-feet beyond and basketball court on both ends with a short wall on one side for fans to sit on and cheer with the other side being a full wall that is in play and used a lot for strategy. Also there are only 7 players on the field with a goalie included.
“They are having the experience that every other able-bodied, so called normal, regular person has a chance,” Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville head coach Shawn Tatge. That’s the big thing any person who goes to adapted soccer sees right away. “They work hard for the coaches, themselves and the team,” coach Tatge said after their quarterfinal loss to Anoka-Hennepin. The hustle they have and determination looks just the same as any person. That’s what stands out when you go to the state adapted soccer tournament.
“People don’t think it is a competitive and physical sport. I usually tell people to come to any of our games and that changes their perception pretty quick. These kids have to have skills and be in good physical shape to be competitive,” Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee head coach Brad Miller.
Another thing is that the coaches usually have to figure out practices with kids from many different schools. The first practice for the teams usually is the second full week of school as that allows the kids to sign up and pass the word to their friends to sign up as well. For the Blazing Cats head coach Shawn Tatge they practice at Lakeville South high school and have to set up busing to get the kids from Burnsville and Farmington to come to the high school. For the Southern Stars they practice at Chaska high school and have to bus kids from Shakopee, Chanhassen and Prior Lake school district. It takes a lot of coordinating between the schools to make these teams happen and it’s all about giving the kids a chance to participate in a high school sport.
But when the kids get on the floor to play adapted soccer it’s hard to not see them as athletes, who give it their all every time. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
By: Adam Bartels