By Andrew Ravenhill, Vikes men’s soccer team
June 20, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – My name is Andrew Ravenhill and this September I will be entering my fifth and last year as a Vikes Athlete with the men’s soccer team. The University of Victoria has been an amazing experience for me so far. Not a day goes by that I am not proud to represent the school both academically, as well as an athlete.
I believe that a huge part of being an elite, university-level athlete isn’t just what goes on between August and March of each academic year, but what the individual dedicates to with respect to their discipline in the off season. Every summer since my first year at UVic, I have played with the Highlanders FC, a Victoria-based semi-professional team that plays in the USL Professional Development League. Playing with the team has made a huge difference to my game throughout the last four years. The players are all either of university-level, professional or ex-professional caliber and competing at this level means you have to either rise to occasion or watch as other teams out-work you. I definitely enjoy the quality of the game, the training and the people I get to play with.
What makes the summer more enjoyable is the guys from the Vikes that choose to play with the Highlanders as well. Having about 10 of my UVic team mates with me this summer definitely helps with team chemistry and makes us a more cohesive unit both on and off the field. This connection also gives us an advantage going into our fall season with the Vikes. The fact that we stay fit and sharp through the summer helps us move seamlessly into the Vikes pre-season.
This past week has been a different mentality during our training. For the past month and a half we have been playing at home, in front of a home crowd at Royal Athletic Park. Coming out of this home stretch we are at the top of the Northwest division with a record of 5-1-1. As we enter the second half of the season, we will spend the next seven games on the road.
Playing on the road presents a different set of challenges. At home, a team needs to focus on not being complacent and on making sure they have every advantage. On the road, we always need to worry about how we treat ourselves and handle the games coming up. Being a bunch of early-twenties guys, we can usually handle our share of garbage from fast food places but its one of those discipline things that makes a difference once the second game of a double-header comes around.
Also, sleep is always an issue. Hotels are usually better at making you wake up feeling like you’ve been out all night rather than in bed. Overall though, roadtrips tend to always be a good time from: listening to Craig Gorman and Elliot Mitrou examine topics for hours on end that would probably land them in a psychiatrist’s office if discussed anywhere else, to watching utterly horrible movies on the bus, to making fun of the one guy who forgets shoes, to trying to comprehend how ex-Vikes goalkeeper, and now coach, is able to function on a diet of nothing but fried chicken, energy drinks and Rolos. More seriously, we’re all hoping that we can come out of this seven-game stretch still atop the Northwest division and helping the club make a push for playoffs and potentially the highest finish in its history.
There will be more to come soon! Hopefully not just from me but one of the other muppets on the team as well!
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