Pam Pack training demonstrates dedication to the game

Published 7:10 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Over the past five or so years, I’ve found myself becoming less and less active and not playing sports as much I’d like. I think this might be the case with the majority of people; as we get older we have more responsibilities and have less time for such extracurricular activities.

So when I had the chance to play soccer with Washington coach Jim Kozuch and the Pam Pack earlier in the summer, I jumped at the opportunity. Kozuch and his players had been meeting up at Kugler Field in the mornings to go through drills and then play in a game as a way to stay sharp before the start of the season. So when I heard about the informal practices while I was covering the soccer camp Kozuch hosted, along with the Optimist Club of Washington, I made sure to get myself an invite.

Playing soccer with the Pam Pack made me realize a couple of things. The first, which deep down I already knew, was the fact that I’m nowhere near the same fitness level I used to be. My legs were feeling heavy within 10 minutes of playing, and that was even while playing as a central defender, which I chose to do because they tend to run the least out of all the field positions.

I even stopped playing about 30 minutes before the game was over, saying I needed to head home to get ready for work. That was only partly true. I also left because I needed to stop playing before I collapsed on the field.

But my biggest takeaway from my training stint with the Washington soccer team was seeing just how dedicated these high school athletes are. The first thing that struck me was how many kids were out at the field. Around 35 guys showed up for this optional training during their summer break. Instead of being at the beach, away on a cruise or just sleeping in, these players chose to be at the field running around in the midst of a heat wave. And while I showed up almost 30 minutes late and missed the drills-section of the practice, they all had the discipline to be there at 8 a.m., ready to go.

Even though my experience was playing with the Pam Pack soccer team, I realize high school athletes in other sports were just as dedicated over the summer. Whether it’s football players, cross-country runners, volleyball players, golfers and tennis players, they all sacrificed portions of their summer break to make sure they stayed sharp and took part in conditioning programs. Even though most won’t play at a higher level, the dedication and work ethic these athletes display will take them far in whatever they choose to pursue.