By: Tori Vander Putten
Last May, Mr. Lerner informed the girls Varsity soccer team that Hammond English teacher Ms. Motaung would be taking over as coach in the following year. She has 20 years of playing experience and 12 years of coaching experience under her belt. When returning players heard about this change, they were nervous but excited. Sophomore Ana Coman commented on this transition, “I was interested because we were going to get new experiences and try to build our team differently than we did last year.”
Due to last year’s record and the fact that this is Ms. Motaung’s second year at Hammond she described her feelings as “nervicited.” Ms. Motaung was passionate about the sport, but concerned about striking a balance with teaching. “I thought it was going to be a lot with teaching and coaching, which I’ve never done before, but I was actually really excited to get back into soccer. And I wanted to help build the program here.” Although it has only been about a month and a half the team has improved since walking in on the first day of tryouts. The team defeated Meade 1-0 and lost to Atholton 1-9 which is an improvement from their 0-10 loss last year.
Sophomore Captain Camryn Johnson mentioned that this changeover has been “a great change in our work ethic.” Practices have started to include mile runs, fitness days, coerver ball skills, and game-like situation drills. Players show up each day ready to work and eager to learn. Coach Motaung added that this team is “one of the hardest-working groups of girls that I’ve worked with… everyone works really hard and no matter what I teach or what I coach everyone tries to do it.”
Eight out of eighteen of the players are freshmen and were not on the team with the previous coach. However, they have all played on other teams and still had to adjust to a new coach. When asked what she liked the most about Coach Motaung, freshman Milana Newby said “I like that she’s hard on us but also understands that we can get tired and sometimes need a break.” This year is a rebuilding year but the team is young and can only improve in the upcoming years.