When you think about the soccer program at ESU, the word ‘improvement’ comes to mind. After a winless 2007 season, the Hornets came back in the 2008 season, tallying four wins.
“First and foremost, the improvement has been the mentality of the girls here and the girls that have stuck with the program,” said Head Coach Jim Schneiderhahn. “When I first got here, it was probably difficult to be a soccer player at Emporia. My impression was that they kept going through coaches, that they were just out there.
I don’t want to say that nobody cared about them, but that’s kind of what seemed to be. They, I think, believed in themselves, but I think that they didn’t feel liked. We’ve gotten much better, and we feel a part of the athletic program.”
Schneiderhahn, or “Coach Snoop,” as he’s known by his soccer players, identified several key items that needed the most improvement.
“The biggest improvement from my standpoint is the ability to play on campus. I think that was one of the huge things that went towards bringing in our girls and making them feel like this is a college program,” Schneiderhahn said. “It’s something I wish I could have been able to do for the girls when I first got here. There’s a little bit more pride for our girls when they can play in front of their classmates, and their classmates don’t have to travel across town to see a game…for us, the biggest step as a soccer program was getting on campus.”
The players have also noticed the team’s improvements.
Katrina Goscha, junior English secondary education major and goalkeeper for the Hornets, noticed the changes first hand.
“We’ve gotten a lot more competitive, the level of play increased drastically,” Goscha said. “People are more skilled and the whole attitude is better. We really want to win.”
Amanda Miano, senior middle school education and math major and midfielder, has also been privy to the strides the team has recently made.
“Definitely offensively, and we’ve been better at defense. We’ve been able to score a lot more than in the past,” Miano said.
Schneiderhahn is optimistic about the start of the upcoming season, but he also knows that nothing comes easy in the MIAA.
“I wish I could look into a crystal ball and say exactly what’s going to happen, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there’s always going to be a surprise,” Scheiderhahn said. “You hope that it’s a positive surprise; you hope that it’s somebody you really weren’t counting on steps up and makes things happen, as opposed to something that is not good, whether its an injury or somebody that doesn’t show up to play.”
Schneiderhahn went on to talk about the difficulty of playing in the MIAA.
“The best way that I could put it is that the season is going to be tough,” he said. “It always is. The MIAA is an incredibly good conference. It’s one of the best in the nation for soccer. We played five teams last year that made it into the NCAA National Tournament. When you have that kind of schedule, you’re going to take your bumps…it’s going to be a learning season; I’m particularly interested to see how our sophomores do. So far, they’ve done an excellent job.”
Team chemistry also seems to be a tremendous asset this year.
“The girls have commented to me that there is a really strong chemistry within the team. It’s been my experience that people talk about team chemistry and use it as a noun, I like to use it as a verb, it’s continually going, it’s active.
Team chemistry isn’t just something that happens; you have to work at it. The very first day the girls were on campus we went over to one of our girl’s parent house here in town and they had us over for dinner. The girls played some backyard games. It’s really grown to where the girls have dinner on their own to get an idea of each other. We do those kinds of things throughout the year. I think that type of closeness is important in any type of endeavor where you’re working with a lot of people. It’s important for one person to see what motivates another person.
Something else we do is a ‘show-and-tell’. It’s the same type of thing that you did when you were in grade school. We asked the kids to bring three things that are important to them; they get up in front of the team and tell them why. For me particularly, it gives it a strong insight into the person’s personality,” he said.
The Hornets have set expectations for themselves this year, not only as a team, but personal as well.
“I want to be a starter, clock a lot of minutes in the goal, and ultimately to win and to help the team win,” Goscha said. “Also, to be a team leader and help our team become a family.”
Miano shares similar goals.
“I want to win and help the team out as much as possible, and to help the freshman get into the college level as much as possible,” Miano said.
Hopes are high as the Hornets continue to improve year to year.
“I think we’ll do a lot better than in the past,” Miano said. “Each year we’ve gotten better. Hopefully this year will be even better.”
Even the soccer team’s motto this year is rejuvenated.
“Respect,” Goscha said. “Basically that just encompasses everything that the word ‘respect’ does: respecting the game that we play, respecting ourselves, not being idiots off the field, respecting each other, respect the coaches and the decisions they make, respecting the officials, and respect our opponents.”
The Hornets will kick off the season against Rockhurst. The game will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at Wilfred C. Bourke Pitch in Kansas City, Mo.
Zac Burt/The Bulletin