By Matthew Yoder
Five years ago, the girls soccer team at Arcadia emerged out of necessity. For years the school fielded a coed unit, and playing time was hard to come by for girls. Chelsea Sharp remembers those years keenly. Her own playing days were cut short after middle school out of the belief that the cards were stacked against her. That feeling served as the genesis for her and a friend petitioning for an all-girls team. Now entering her fifth year as the only coach this team has had, Sharp is beginning to see the effects of her persistence. The numbers don’t lie in turnout, as additionally Arcadia will be fielding a JV unit for the first time. Sharp believes this will undoubtedly serve the progression of student athletes immensely on the pitch.
“It will give them that knowledge, it’s a foundation,” said Sharp.
On a warm, yet blustery Tuesday afternoon, Sharp was working her girls through live game drills. Just one day removed from a 6-1 defeat in a scrimmage against King William, Sharp was focused on the positives, of her team holding strong until the waning minutes of the game, and their unique ability to recognize their own mistakes.
Sharp praised her girls’ ability to self-diagnose, and attributed it in part to their cohesiveness as a unit.
“They communicate well as a team, they’re like one big family, they all share in each other’s successes or failures,” Sharp said.
For some of these girls this season marks the culmination Sharp’s determination sought to provide, with a number of seniors celebrating the fifth anniversary as the original trendsetters back in eighth grade. Their desire to not only be present, but learn and compete always at a higher level makes Sharp’s job much easier.
“It’s not like I’m pulling teeth to get them out here,” said Sharp.
The tools Sharp has taken into the season give her good reason to be optimistic.
“I have a strong varsity team, we’re looking pretty good this year,” Sharp said.
Sharp pointed to the specifics.
“Defensively we’re really good, but we have a lot of strikers too,” said Sharp.
Anniversaries are always a time for celebration and the hope is this Firebirds’ team will go out on top, all the while mentoring the players following them for years to come.