Fresh ‘fab five’ follow footsteps on field

The Southerner

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By Lauren Ogg

For high school athletics, a phenomenon occurs at the end of each year. Senior athletes depart for college, offering an opportunity for younger teammates to step up to the plate. The Grady girls soccer team was no exception last year when they lost five starters to college. Now, several freshmen look to take their place.

“A core group of five freshmen have come out to summer practice,” said senior Abby Orlansky, captain of the girls varsity soccer team.

Orlansky said the team has had difficulty recovering after losing two captains and three other senior players. She is counting on the new members to give it their all.

“We look for somebody who is dedicated and who can be the brave new freshman player that everyone is shocked by and stands out,” Orlansky said.

Over the summer, the captains arranged for practices twice a week. These practices were designed to keep the players active, practice technique and allow the new members to show their skills. They also allowed the team to get a sense of what the year is going to look like and how to address flaws before the actual season begins.

“If the freshmen can come in and play with heart and intensity, we’ll be fine,” head coach Rodney Thomas said. “They will have to get used to the physicality of the game in high school. The freshmen are going to be playing against seventeen/eighteen-year-olds when they might be fourteen years old.”

Freshman Erin Ferris understands the hurdles and is enthused to join the team.

“I’m very eager to start a new fresh and challenging league,” Ferris said. “It’s going to be so different from Inman because Inman was like Rec soccer. All the teams we played against were not very good, and there was no competition for us Inmaners.”

Ferris has been playing soccer for eleven years now and hopes to continue her career at Grady. Her sister, Emily Ferris, was on the varsity team last year and is expected to return. The friendly sibling rivalry motivates Erin to impress her sister. This, in combination with the pressures from other players, pushes her to work hard.

“Definitely the fact that [returning members] think they might be better than us just because they are older [motivates me],” Ferris said. “I want to prove them wrong.”

Similar to Ferris, freshman Brett Pollock is trying out for the varsity team and shares the same viewpoint about joining the team and the pressures from older members.

“I love trying to prove myself…[Older players] think when the freshmen join we won’t be able to catch up, but I think after some hard work we will be able to play alongside them,” Pollock said.

Thomas is impressed with what he has seen so far and from what he has heard about the new players.

“Several [of the returning players] will have to step up because their positions are in jeopardy,” Thomas said. “There will be no qualms about starting freshmen. The best players will start, and they all know they will have to battle for their spots.”

When assessing the situation, Orlansky described a déjà vu feeling.

“This mirrors our freshman year,” Orlansky said. “There were a core group of five of us. We were kind of scared at first but we completely transformed the team.”

Orlansky said Thomas was so impressed by the group of five when they were freshmen girls because no one expected them to be that good. She felt that it was the team’s best season and constantly finds herself referring to ‘how we wish this season was like freshman year.’

“This is my last season and I’m expecting it to be the best,” Orlansky said.

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