With a roster featuring just two upperclassmen, the Columbia Basin College women’s soccer team has found 2016 to be a bit of a grind, sporting an early 2-7-1 record.
First-year coach Omar Anderson — who played and was an assistant coach under the tutelage of Northwest soccer icons Andrew Chapman, Kanyon Anderson and Tim Tucker at NWAC powerhouse Peninsula College — has preached the importance of hard work and consistency all year to the Hawks, but there’s been a learning curve.
“It’s that adaptability and change. They’re starting to realize that they have to adapt their game to the college setting,” Anderson said of his freshman players. “Things that they would have gotten away with in club and high school, they won’t get away with that right now. So we’re getting through that process, and there’s been some growing pains, but I’m okay with it, and I have to be patient.”
Anderson served as the interim head coach at Peninsula before transitioning to CBC, but said he was enjoying the nuances of managing his own junior college program from the ground up.
“Yes, it’s new, but most of the time it’s just the organizing part,” Anderson said. “It’s making sure that whatever I do trickles down into what they’re doing when they come on the practice field.”
He stressed that in order to have success at the community college ranks — and consequently get a shot at playing for a four-year university — his players must be willing to outwork the competition.
One of the players who has grasped an early mastery of this concept is freshman captain Gracie Geurts. Geurts, a defender out of Brighton High School in Salt Lake City, has embraced the challenge of putting in extra work to be competitive, and it’s shown in her play.
“I like the challenge because a lot of us are trying to move on to a four-year school, so it’s nice to go out and compete against other girls that are trying to reach the same goals,” Geurts said. “You see kind of where you match up, and that part is nice.”
In addition to the increased pace of play, both Anderson and his players said collegiate soccer demands more thinking and focus than the high school game, putting discipline and preparation at a premium.
“There’s a lot of mental challenges that are different than high school, because we’re here more often,” said freshman midfielder Alyne VanWinkle, who has recorded three assists. “We’re tired, (but) we’re getting to know each other, so mentally we have to stay in it.”
Anderson tabbed both Geurts and VanWinkle as two of his team’s top players, and specifically mentioned that Geurts has worked to raise her teammates up to embrace the challenges that come with collegiate soccer.
“She works hard, she sees it, and she has a hunger,” Anderson said. “And she’s working to pass that on to other ladies who haven’t really grasped it yet. Like, ‘Whoa, we can do this.’ Sometimes it just takes a little bit of pushing.”
After picking up their first conference win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Wenatchee Valley College on Saturday, the Hawks (1-4 NWAC East) will hit the road Wednesday to face the winless Blue Mountain Community College Timberwolves. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.