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A Day At The Soccer Fields

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 1, 2007

Doc’s Note: This is the latest in a series of columns on sports at Crichton. These columns will appear regularly until the end of the school year.

Back in the spring of this year I wrote about the kinder and more family-friendly atmosphere I saw at the annual SCAC Basketball Tournament that’s always held at Rhodes College in Memphis and how, unlike the rowdy behavior you normally see at most sporting events, the fans of the schools that were represented during Championship Sunday at Mallory Gym were showing their support with class and dignity — instead of acting like obnoxious, drunken jerks.

On Saturday afternoon, as ranked teams were getting beaten in college football, the Crichton Comets men and women’s soccer squads welcomed Cumberland University, a school that is famously known as the alma mater of former Secretary of State Cordell Hull and located 40 minutes away from Nashville in Lebanon, Tennessee to the soccer fields of Second Presbyterian Church on Central Avenue and South Goodlett Street, directly down the road from the University of Memphis.

I arrived at the soccer fields around the time that the women’s game against the Lady Bulldogs ended, parking across the street at what I had thought was the main soccer field only to find out that the soccer field was a part of the Presbyterian Day School that is located on the Second Presbyterian Church grounds. The real soccer field was located at the corner of Central Avenue and South Goodlett Street, not next door to the Carpenter Student Housing Complex on the campus of the University of Memphis.

As I walked across Central Avenue and into the parking lot, I came across soccer players Patrick Kabano and Courtney Andrews as they were working on their kicks prior to the game.

“I told you I would be here,” I said to Patrick.

After I snapped a few pictures of Andrews and Kabano working on their kicks, I ran into basketball players Derrick Boykin and Michael Sapp as they were watching the practice.

“I see you got your notepad,” Derrick said to me as I showed him my steno pad, “you’re taking notes?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “It’s for a story I’m doing for TNB about a day at the soccer fields. It’ll be up early in the week and should be quite a read.”

Earlier in the morning as I went on Facebook, I found out that Sapp sprained his ankle and when I asked him about it, my first inclination was that it was because of horseplay in the student center on Friday afternoon — only to find out it was because of playing basketball that his ankle was sprained.

Much like the atmosphere I observed at Mallory Gym during the SCAC Tournament earlier this year, much of the crowd, for the most part, were composed of the parents of players as well as families with their children enjoying the late September sunshine filling up the seating berm in the shade behind the Crichton bench.

As the game started, I took my place on the berm behind the Crichton bench and began to scribble meaningless notes in my notepad.

Midway through the first part of the game, however, I would get caught up on the performance of the women’s game thanks, in part, to junior defenseman Courtnee Steen who was sitting behind me as I scribbled through the notepad.

“We lost 3-1,” she said, “Ginny Galloway scored the only goal for us.”

During the time that Steen and I talked, she was nothing more than optimistic about the future of the women’s soccer program at Crichton.

“We’ve been competitive in games recently,” she said, “but I believe that once we get the feel of each other, it’s no telling what we can do as a program. We have 7 freshmen, 5 sophomores, 3 juniors, and only one senior this season and next season, we’re going to be loaded with talent because we have everyone returning.”

For a minute, as the game moved into the second period, it seemed as if the Comets were on its way to their second win in a row thanks, in part, to goals scored by Matthew Long and Darren Cole and the solid play of goalie Bradley Greer, who made 4 saves for the Comets, giving another reason why he’s ranked 33rd in the NAIA in saves by a goalie with a shade over 5 per game.

But in the second period, the Bulldogs would come roaring back with a couple of goals of their own, forcing the game to go into a pair of overtimes.

On my way to the other side of the field, I ran into Crichton second baseman Rufus Tomassetti as he sat in the shade on the Goodlett Street side of the field.

“This your first game?” I asked Tomasseti.

“Second,” he replied.

During the conversation I had with Tomasseti, he brought up his own assessment of the soccer program.

“There’s definitely room for improvement,” Tomassetti said to me, referring to the soccer program, “No question about it.”

The conversation moved from soccer to the upcoming baseball season as Tomassetti and outfielder Teddy Reed talked about the wealth of talent that will be back in 2008.

“We have 11 seniors returning,” Reed said, “Most notably right hander Billy Davis, who missed the entire season due to injury, and centerfielder Sebastian Barnes, who hit .330 and collected 45 RBIs.”

To think of most college sporting events, you think mainly of profanity, beer, and babes in that order of succession, an atmosphere that would not be suitable for a family outing.

But from what I saw on Saturday afternoon under a crystal-blue sky in East Memphis, it again sent home a message to me that college sporting events can be civil and family-friendly.

All it needs is a little kick.

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One Response to “A Day At The Soccer Fields”

  1. Very well written. You should write action/adventure fiction, because you pay very close attention to detail.

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