Essentially, it is now time for the Barbers Hill soccer programs to stake their claim as postseason combatants.
That is what athletic director Tom Westerberg said recently and that expectation has given rise to the current senior class within the boys soccer program to push for that next step.
Fourth-year head coach Brian Moore has seen interest rise with his camp numbers hitting close to 80 attendees, the highest number in the three years of camps since the program launched in 2017.
“You can see more players playing and the quality getting better and better each year,” Moore said of his campers.
Being able to use the indoor practice facility has helped Moore’s cause of keeping the numbers growing.
“It does help because if we were outdoor the numbers probably wouldn’t be as high,” he said. “It’s a definite advantage with rain, heat, thunderstorms … and we have air conditioning. That’s the best part.”
With the younger campers Moore takes the time to teach while also looking at what he might have coming down the pike.
“With the younger kids it’s about teaching them different aspects of the game and learn without realizing they are learning proper techniques of the game and the way to play the game,” Moore said. “With the older kids, it’s a plus to see who is coming out and getting a head start looking at those kinds of players as well.”
The numbers of incoming freshmen at the camp has dropped because of the University Interscholastic League’s new rule allowing coaches to work with athletes for two hours a week. That means a lot of those new ninth-graders are working out with the high school program rather than at the camp.
“I’ve been seeing those kids this summer and we have some good talent coming up,” Moore said. “I have been impressed with that.”
Moore has seen a desire of the Barbers Hill community to embrace the sport and attend a lot of camps and push the development of the sport.
That may include the Eagles making the playoffs.
“I am averaging 20 to 25 on Wednesdays and Thursday when we go for about an hour,” Moore said. “They are taking advantage and it’s something I wish we could have had when we first started. I can see our skill level advancing and our knowledge. They are getting it more. That’s the whole thing: Years passed I couldn’t work with them and they wouldn’t touch a ball for two to three months. This ensures they are getting touches and keep getting instruction.”
Moore is also enjoying the fact the Barbers Hill boys are taking the challenge by the leash and leading the way toward their hoped-for place among the Eagle teams that have experienced the playoff feeling. The Eagles finished last season with a 4-15-1 overall record.
“They are doing a lot on their own,” Moore said. “It’s heading in the right direction. They are getting more competitive. It’s more than just putting a jersey on and showing up for a game. They want to get out there and win some and they know they had to work more than just with me.
“That’s encouraging for a coach to see it happen. It’s all about joining the party or be left behind.”