So it’s the beginning of another girls soccer season. The weather still sucks, spring break is still the first week of practice and the team has to play #10 Ames on basically the first day that games can be played on. So things seem to be the same right. Not really, I didn’t mention 1 pretty major change… a new coach. After 5 years of coaching and becoming attached to the girls, the school, the town and everything else that goes with it, I made the decision to move on. I was laid off from my full-time job with Maytag and was looking for new direction. I could’ve looked in the DesMoines area and commuted like basically everyone else is doing, but there was 1 more factor that influenced me. My girlfriend a just less than 3 years at the time was headed back to her home town to get her masters. Amy recently graduated from my alma mater, Simpson College, and decided to pursue her political science major at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is majoring in public administration, a 2 year program there. So I decided I had spent long enough dating a girl that lived 45 minutes away during the school year and 2.5 hours away in the summer. We moved out here in August, I decided I had collected enough unemployment and got a full-time job doing computer work for a small financial company in September. Then due to the housing market being the way it is we decided to buy a house in the end of December. So things have been a lot different for me, but I guess it’s time I grew up a little. I had too much fun working in my hometown with some great people and then getting to hang out with high school girls everyday after school. Coaching soccer wasn’t really a job, it was too fun to be a job. Every day I got to go outside in the sun and run around kicking a ball against people I could beat. 🙂 I’m just kidding on that last bit, it probably helped I had a few years advantage on everybody, ok seriously though I’m not very good. So, soccer season has rolled around again and this time around, I don’t get to be directly involved, so I’ve turned in to the biggest fan the Newton Girls Soccer team has and probably the furthest away from town.

As for the new coach, I had the opportunity to meet him from coaching against him over the years. I think he has a great knowledge of the game and is a great coach. I felt he would be a great fit for Newton since we had similar coaching styles and he has so much experience. Sure things are going to be different for the team, but they could be a lot more different if the new coach was a yeller, or a conditioning specialist. Hint… I was neither, sometimes I liked to act like I was tough on the conditioning, but I thought we got all the conditioning work we needed by working hard during the drills and not taking many breaks. So Coach Barnhill came in with a very good resume of experience and a bright outlook on a chance to take a decent program to the next level. Sure he has different philosophies on formations and practice scheduling, but what coach wouldn’t. I was never part of a structured soccer program in high school or college that ran good practices, so I didn’t have much to start out with. I just learned everything on the go. My dad was a great coach when I was growing up and taught us the necessities to win and give me a huge head start. He’d still ask how everything was going and made practice suggestions last year. Btw, he’s probably the girls 2nd biggest fan. Either him or Amy, they’d probably fight to be 2nd. Back to Mr. Rick Barnhill, I think time will be a great indicator that the school made a great dicision on that hire. He has only improved teams and I don’t know why things would be any different in Newton. Below are a couple comments left after the article introducing him in the Newton Daily News:

Yep wrote on Mar 31, 2008 6:32 PM:
” I played for Barnhill for a very short time in Davenport and he was by far the best soccer coach I ever had. Great job Newton for getting a quality coach! “

A.L. Parent wrote on Mar 29, 2008 10:32 AM:
” Newton, you have an excellent coach in Rick Barnhill. Albert Lea is a small, rural district in a town of 15,000 but in the last three seasons they have finished in the top 16 teams statewide twice and the top 8 once- competing against much bigger public schools and private Twin City schools. His second and third seasons, AL girls soccer had the second highest and the highest grade point average among ALL soccer teams (boys and girls) in the state. Players he has guided recently are now playing Division II at Upper Iowa, Minnesota- Duluth and Minnesota State-Mankato. There are also players at Division III for River Falls and others. Rick Barnhill is not some unapproachable, ultracompetitive screamer, but a competent professional that knows how to get the best out of each player without killing the fun of playing the game. You have chosen well. “

So my outlook on this season. We (I use that like I’m still a part of the team, I can do that since I’m the biggest fan) only return 4 starters, after graduating 6 seniors and losing 1 to a family move. Surprisingly I was the only Maytager that moved this season (that I know of), don’t get me wrong the closing of Maytag has had a huge impact on the school & even our team over the last couple years. The school is also small enough that girls soccer is the first sport to drop down in class. We are now the biggest school in 1A instead of the smallest school in 2A. Another good move for the program. We competed very well with the best teams in 2A last year, but also beat the team that would’ve played for 3rd in last years 1A play-offs. And also should’ve beat #2 in 1A. But that’s behind us, maybe I’ll talk about last year later. This spring’s Cardinals are returning their leading scorer, now career goal leader and a pretty strong core of players. Even though there are only 4 returning starters there are a ton of players that got respectable playing time and aren’t new to being on the field during important situations. They have a lot of experience, are well educated on the game, and most importantly are eager to succeed. They are all very competitive. That has been proved already this year. They were respected enough from last years season to be ranked #12 in the preaseason rankings. A ranking that could just as well be #2 considering how teams #2 through #15 are just a mashup of good teams. The girls are already off on a good foot with a 2-1 record with their only loss to another tough Ames team. The real test will come later this week with a matchup with a good Dallas Center-Grimes team. DCG beat us last year after we had beat them the year before. Last years game was a 3-2 battle where we had fought back for a chance to win after a long week, and then just lost it in the end. It was a heart wrenching loss. I’m sure the girls are ready to avenge that loss at DCG’s home pitch. DCG is a well coached squad returning most of it’s team from last year and are out to prove that they want to go to state this year. It will be a good test for the team to see where they stand amongst the best in 1A. We do have an advantage on DCG, in that we have a new approach and a little different style of play. I’ve been able to keep up with the team enough to that we are still growing and have had a few games to learn a lot about ourselves. They are still growing and are waiting to have that breakout game. I think the girl still have a lot to prove. They aren’t content with just winning the games we won last year and losing in the second round of the playoffs again. This team is set out to make their own name. They can still win out and make it to state for the first time in Newton Girls Soccer history. They are the type of team that won’t let a couple wins go to their head and overlook the next opponent. Especially right now this team is out to overcome their personal feats and play good soccer every minute of the game.

I’m excited to see it happen Thursday. Thursday will be my first game to watch this year. Amy and I are leaving work and heading to DCG to catch the varsity game, then planning to watch the JV and Varsity play Knoxville on Friday. I wish we could make it to the Marshalltown game, but a change in the scheduling of the Nebraska Spring game will interrupt that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so confident I think that the Newton Girls could beat the Corn Huskers in a soccer game, but I got these tickets a few months ago, planning on the game being at 6 PM, where we could do both. I tried to call Coach Osborn to have him change it, but he wouldn’t listen.

I also wanted to note, that Amy and I ( and my Dad) love the notes I have been getting from people keeping me updated on whats up. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. Like I’ve mentioned before, there are some great people in Newton, the soccer team included. I’ve built some lasting friendships and I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. So keep’em coming, I don’t have a limit on my inbox, facebook, or myspace so I’d like to hear from everybody.

So, more from me later, but go Cards, keep the faith and keep up the good work, great things are going to happen for you this year!