MABTON - Mabton High School has a girls soccer team this year and coach Lucia Tovar is looking forward to providing learning opportunities, establishing the school's newest soccer program.
Tovar said she feels the new program will provide students, who don't participate in other sport activities, with a venue in which they can garner new skills and learning opportunities.
She said Andy Dyer, a coach and teacher within the Mabton School District, has been trying to establish a girls soccer team for a number of years.
This past spring, Mabton was unable to have a baseball team, and Dyer talked to the district's athletic director, Denny Brown, about hosting a spring soccer clinic.
"Andy (Dyer) asked me to help with the clinic," said Tovar.
She said she was a soccer player in her youth and was familiar with the rules involved in the sport, but she was not certain as to her coaching abilities.
After assisting with the soccer clinic and seeing the enthusiasm from the girls who were at the clinic, Tovar said she was convinced coaching would be something she was willing to try.
"The girls at the clinic worked well together and with me," she commented.
Tovar said she has hopes of building the program into a program that will provide athletic opportunities reaching into the Mabton Middle School.
For now, her focus is on the coming season. She said Mabton's lack of a strong parks and recreation program leaves youth within the community with limited opportunities for becoming involved in sports.
"It's like we are starting from scratch," Tovar said, stating the athletes on her team have little experience with soccer, if any.
She wants the coming season to become a foundation for a strong girls soccer program within the school district.
Tovar said she has hopes of establishing the program and gaining exposure for the youth of the district, providing girls with an avenue for athletic opportunities as they become eligible for the sport.
"Soccer is inclusive," she said, stating the sport allows athletes challenges they might not have in other activities.
Tovar went on to say she will be challenged also. She said challenges that she will face include gaining participation and a short period of practicing before the first game of the season.
She said the team members need 10 days of practice prior to the first game and practices began Monday, one day prior to the first day of school.
Tovar said there were a number of girls at the spring clinic who showed an interest in being involved in the girls soccer team and whom had never participated in sports. "They were hungry to learn," she stated, saying she has hopes the team will work together, challenging themselves.
She said the overall success of the program will not be measured on the number of games won or lost, but in how the players learn the skills and work together. "The goal is to develop bonds and sportsmanship," she commented.
Tovar added that she has worked toward helping relieve some of the worries her team members may have by purchasing equipment out of her own pocket. She said she feels there are some who view the cost of equipment as an obstacle to participating in sports, but with her help the team members will be able to participate without the worry of such costs.
She said the players will have the option of paying for the equipment (at cost) she purchased, or the equipment can be "recycled" during future seasons.
"I have hopes of establishing a 'recycle shoe program'," she said, stating she has hopes of having equipment reused when possible.
Another hope Tovar has is added support from community members wishing to help establish the program. She said she is open to the possibility of community donations. She said equipment that is gently used or new can be provided to the team.
Overall, she said she is realistic about the fact that establishing a program involves hard work and dedication. She said she is excited about the season and the possibilities for students at Mabton High School, and is working hard toward the goal of helping establish the new program.