Boys soccer team excited for spring season

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Ben Tutewohl and Middleton’s boys soccer team had their season pushed back nearly seven months and will now play in the spring of 2021./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Boys soccer teams from all across the state will begin their new seasons on Sept. 7. By the end of the week, those schools could be having their first game.

At Middleton High School, first-year varsity coach Kevin Pauls and the Cardinals will watch and wait.

Middleton recently voted to push fall sports to the spring due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. That means Middleton’s boys soccer season will now take place from March 22-May 10.

While waiting another six months for the season to begin isn't ideal, Pauls & Co. are trying to stay upbeat.

“I'm excited that we have a plan for the season,” Pauls said. “It's better late than never. I just hope things are better by then. I keep reminding myself and people around me, we are making a huge assumption that we as school, community, state, country will be in a better place by March, and I hope we are, but we just don't know.

“That's been a huge idea for lots of people to wrap their heads around — what does the ‘end’ of this look like? Being part of the girls program, I saw firsthand how devastating losing the entire season was and holding out hope that doesn't happen again this spring.”

Pauls knows there will be immense challenges if — and when — a season does arrive.

The girls soccer season is slated to run from April 26-June 28, meaning there will be about three weeks where both teams are playing. That could create chaos as the two programs try creating enough field time for all of their teams.

In addition, Pauls is also the top assistant for girls coach Mary Duffy, while Duffy is the lead assistant for the boys team.

“The biggest challenge we’ll face is overlapping with the girls season for three weeks,” Pauls said. “Assuming we get the numbers we normally do, when you combine the two soccer programs you're talking 325-plus student athletes spanning 13 total teams.

“We’ll have to get really creative using our fields and equipment, finding officials, and most likely needing to find more staff since a few of us coach in both programs — including both head coaches.”

Pauls, who has been coaching at MHS since 2007, knows there will be other obstacles.

Boys golf, track and baseball all start on April 19. Some athletes could bypass soccer knowing a crossover could be tough to juggle.

Pauls also had to tear up Middleton’s original schedule and start from scratch. While that’s been a nuisance, it’s also right up his wheelhouse.

“I've been planning, and organizing for the season since the end of last season as I've been managing all the scheduling from way back when Ken (Burghy) was around,” Pauls said, referring to legendary Middleton coach Ken Burghy. “So from the point of view, not too bad. 

“I've been helping with other behind the scenes aspects of the program for numerous years, so this spring and summer I've done a lot of planning and organizing, of course fully knowing there was a good chance I wouldn't have a normal season. Sometimes have been more chaotic and crazy than others.”

Pauls knows the next few months will be tough.

If the schools across the state playing soccer don't have any interruptions, it will be hard for Middleton to sit back and watch. But Pauls is hopeful that a spring season will eventually work for his team.

“It'll be very weird for me personally since I've been coaching boys high school soccer since 1998,” Pauls said. “But knowing and hoping we'll get our season in the spring certainly helps.

“I'm not sure how spectating may work, but maybe I'll take a few road trips to take in a few games this fall. I think if conferences and teams are successful in navigating the pandemic and athletics this fall it will give us a plan to follow in the spring, so in that sense, it gives them a chance to iron out the wrinkles for us. 

“In the end, the WIAA was and is in a no-win position and I think they've come up with something, while not perfect, that’s workable and reasonable.”

 

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