Soccer team kicks off new era
After a disappointing campaign last season, the Trojan Soccer Team prepares for the 2013 season with a new coach and a new direction. Coach Adrian Blewitt takes over the reins of a team that mustered only two victories last season. He brings with him the experience and success of turning around each program that he’s coached before UALR.
“This is the fourth program that I’ve taken over that’s been bottom of the conference when I got there. We’ve won the conference inside two to four years,” Blewitt said. “I can’t promise that’s going to happen, but I know at least I’ve got the support and resources here to give it a good go. We’ll do our best,” he said.
The reason that Blewitt decided to take over such a challenging position is a simple one. “I think I was ready to make the jump to Division I. It’s one thing to be successful at the Division II level, but in my mind it’s still the B level,” Blewitt said. “I know I can do it at the Division I level.”
To help achieve that success on this new level may require more than just the usual Xs and Os. Coach Blewitt, who is married with a child, said he plans to bring his home to work by infusing the team with a family atmosphere. “I think they (the team) want the family atmosphere to exist here amongst each other and how we run our program,” Blewitt said. “That togetherness has to be there for you to progress your program.”
The program returns four seniors and seven juniors along with 14 new players, 11 of whom are freshmen. “We have some experience and some youth. It’s just a case of getting those two groups to work together,” Blewitt said.
Helping to meld that youth and experience will be seniors Ashley Barksdale, biology major, and Paige Mason, art major, who both know that team unity will be a key. “It’s important (for) the returners to set an example for the incoming girls,” Barksdale said. “I think what I want to focus on is being there for the incoming girls – just being there to support them if they need anything,” she said.
As far as work on the field, the focus is on starting with the basics. “One thing that I thought was cool that coach Blewitt does is that he would set up multiple drills for us,” Mason said. “I think the organization is a lot firmer and I feel confident with the drills that we do, like there is a purpose with this drill,” she added. Barksdale noted that “if [the coach] noticed something that I wasn’t doing technically right, he would take me off to the side and show me how to do it after, or he would pause the drill and show us all how to do it correctly.”
The focus on family and fundamentals make both seniors feel like this is the start of a “new era,” a sentiment shared by the coach. “I think that they’re very excited, but I also know that they’re also nervous. I like the vibe, the environment amongst our team right now; it’s a good excitement, a good nervousness. It’s a good time for our program. I think we’re going to start kind of a new little era here,” Blewitt said. “It’s going to happen, it’s just a case of when.”
The Lady Trojans start the season with an exhibition game in Memphis, Tenn. against Christian Brothers on Aug. 21 before returning home for the season opener Aug. 25 versus Southern University.