CA Soccer: A Season of Resilience

May 27, 2024 4 min read

The most popular sport in the world, soccer, seems like a simple game—two nets, a rectangular field, and a ball to kick, pass, and shoot to score. However, simple games often require complex solutions to succeed. With dozens of famous tactics available to help put the ball in the net, there’s always something for players and coaches to learn and improve on.

Stop by Calgary Academy’s Main Field during the spring, where you can find a group of hard-working students learning the ins and outs of soccer. After a season of rain cancellations, schedule changes, and injuries, the Grade 10–12 soccer team has come together for the love of the game, improving as individuals and as a team.

With 11 players on the field per team, everyone must work together to get the ball into the net. Stepping onto the field requires someone to switch from a “me” to “us” mindset, something CA teacher and soccer coach Danica McConnell reminds her students.

“Soccer, at its heart, is a team sport. You need to step out of your bubble to play it and consider the 10 individual players on your team, as well as the 11 players you’re playing against.” – Ms. McConnell

A Calgary Academy alum, Ms. McConnell began coaching to share her love for the sport. Graduating from CA in 2012, she enjoyed winning championships with the school but most fondly remembers the improvements to her game and the friendships she developed.

Ms. McConnell has felt proud to see her team’s growth throughout the short season as players and, more importantly, as people.

“I have seen some awesome friendships and connections growing over the past month. Many of our older students became mentors, leaders, and captains to the younger ones… I’ve noticed that some of the students in my photography class who weren’t talking before are now very close because of soccer.”

A Character-Building Season

Soccer is already a shorter season than other school sports, but the team has unfortunately only played four games due to poor weather and scheduling changes. However, the students are always eager to hit the field whenever possible.

Ms. McConnell remembers one game where a change to the start time hadn’t been communicated to them—the Knights were on the field ready to play at 4:00 p.m., but the game didn’t start until 5:00 p.m.

Calgary Academy student Olivia Y. throws the ball into play during a recent soccer game.With the option to come back at game time or get some extra practice in, no one hesitated to work on their skills—getting an additional hour of training (and an incredible warm-up to their game). Ms. McConnell remembers how special that moment was to her as a coach—when everyone wants to practice and improve, the sky is the limit for the team’s performance.

“When we come to practices together, we understand how each other plays… The more time we have to work on this, the stronger we are as a team, and the better our play will become.”

Grade 12 student and one of the team’s captains, Olivia Y., agrees with her coach. A long-time player, she initially fell in love with the sport playing Timbits soccer. She notes how the team has improved each day, working more as a cohesive unit.

“When the season just began, our team played soccer like an individual sport, taking the ball up by ourselves and not playing as a team. It was like we were all playing a separate game with the same goal, but after a few practices, we became more of a team.”

While the season has been shorter than expected, the Grade 10–12 soccer team has one more game scheduled. No matter the final score, Ms. McConnell is happy with how the team has performed. She hopes they feel proud of their improvements.

“I hope my players remember that although we have not been the top dog in the league, I’m extremely proud of their dedication and desire to give it their all and their ability to try and improve after each game and practice. I fully believe that if our season was longer, we could have entered the championship.” – Ms. McConnell

While this season is almost over, the returning Grade 10 and 11 players can continue their hard work next spring with clearer skies, building on the great foundation set this year.