By Amanda Compton
Twin Oaks Christian School’s third grade boys soccer team went undefeated, finishing first place in the Catholic Youth Conference.
With a 10-0 record, the Eagles sailed through the season virtually unmatched, averaging eight goals per game, scoring a total of 76 points and giving up only eight goals. In fact, their most difficult game was against St. Monica, the division leader at the time, and the Eagles shut them out 2-0 — outscoring them by 35 points on the season.
“The most difficult game this year was St. Monica – no question,” said Head Coach Jay Fox, who coached the Eagles alongside Flavio Furlan. “They were undefeated and had not conceded a goal all year until we played them. They had good defense and great goal-tending. They held us to only two goals.”
Jay said that both he and Flavio are thankful to have been given the opportunity by God to coach this particular group of boys, helping them grow into men after the LORD’s own heart. Fox noted this team’s willingness to be coached, a prevailing attribute among successful people and sports teams.
“Everyone on the team listened and wanted to get better,” said Fox. “We also watched their mental toughness increase throughout the year. Flavio and I knew we had a good team and expected to win seven to eight games, but it was actually an Eagles player who approached me to tell me he thought they’d go 10-0.”
This apparent sense of confidence was contagious, creating a true and deep desire for accomplishment among the entire third grade boys soccer team, observed Fox. To build on this confidence as well as to show the team that hard work pays off, Jay and Flavio created a system that allowed the hardest-working player during practice to be team captain for the upcoming soccer game.
“Relying on the Lord for the strength to work hard will yield positive results more often than not,” stated Fox. “This ‘everyone gets a trophy’ mentality that has pervaded our culture is not reality. This is not how it works when they grow up – and they need to learn that now.”
When asked about how they managed to keep the team both encouraged and humbled, Fox said, “Our mantra was ‘effort and attitude’, which are the two things they can control. We also spent time in prayer before and after each game and practice, asking Christ for his grace to use all of our heart, mind and soul to play hard, but with Godly sportsmanship.”
After each game, Fox added, “We reminded them of how proud we are, and that we love them. We point out individual victories, and how it helped the team. We also helped them to understand that soccer is not solely about producing offense, but also producing very good defense. Offense puts points on the board, but good defense wins games.”
Fox went on to say that it is their job as coaches to see players as more than they see themselves, which encourages players to play harder and smarter than they believe they can.
Due to this year’s success, Fox said his team should move up one or two divisions next year, depending on how they perform during their indoor season, which kicks off tonight at 6:00 p.m. Fox said he will be recruiting additional talented young men for the 2018 outdoor season since they will be playing on a bigger field with 11 rather than eight players.
“It is our primary responsibility for these boys to learn how to enjoy soccer,” said Fox. “We have players who we have taught from scratch for the past three years, and then players who have a tremendous amount of skill brought to Twin Oaks from past teams. Our goal is to teach them a skill that will allow them to keep themselves physically fit throughout their High School career – which should help with their academics, as well. If they are able to carry this on to college, that’s even better.”
The third grade soccer boys will celebrate their winning season next week at Jet’s Pizza. Jay said he has a surprise for each player and that there will be a CYC trophy presentation later this winter, a permanent testament to their hard work during the 2017 outdoor season.
“Hopefully we will be able to put a couple more trophies in there,” added Fox.
Twin Oaks Christian School, a ministry of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church