Muskies’ season dubbed ‘Fast and Furious’

Caroline Spencer is neither young nor old, but to classify her as part of Generation ‘X’ would be false.
So when Spencer, who is the head coach of the Muskie girls’ soccer team, described their brief four-week season as “Fast and Furious,” without realizing her analogy goes towards the action-packed movie from a few years ago starring Vin Diesel, Ja Rule, and Paul Walker, it could be justly seen as a humorous statement.
“It’s just the way it feels,” said Spencer. “I actually forgot there was a movie called that.”
But Spencer couldn’t be more correct in her way of thinking. The season is short. Too short in fact.
“It’s a difficult schedule because it’s so fast and furious,” she remarked. “Because you go every weekend [for] four weeks and then you’re done unless you win NorWOSSA.
“We go from a month of training with no games to bang, bang, bang, bang, and we’re done,” she added.
But for a sport that rewards teams with endurance, such a short season where only two games really count (the NorWOSSA championship is against Kenora and Dryden, none of their other games count for anything) may hinder the Muskies, who have won seven of the past eight NorWOSSA crowns because it gives mediocre teams a chance for an upset.
But the short-season formula always has been observed, so it’s hard for Spencer to say if a shorter season hinders the Muskies, who will be playing an exhibition game against Rainy River tomorrow (April 28) at 5 p.m. and then play a few exhibition games this weekend in Winnipeg.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to teach a soccer program for three months. I only know this system, so I’m really not in a position to say,” Spencer noted.
That doesn’t suggest Spencer likes the current set-up, though—quite the opposite. But this is what the team is given, so this is what it must deal with.
“The disappointing part is that when we get to the NWOSSAA part, we’re now playing Thunder Bay teams, who have the advantage of being able to play indoor soccer during winter, so their skill level is generally higher than ours,” said Spencer.
So that leads us to our next topic—what is Thunder Bay doing that Fort Frances isn’t?
The answer lies not in what they’re doing, it’s what they have—an indoor soccer arena.
“To improve our soccer program in Fort Frances, that would be our next step,” said Spencer, who suggested building an indoor soccer arena in a recent recreation survey that was mailed out to residents.
But though there would be positives, problems would arise—and Spencer is well aware of them.
“How could I ask our soccer players to concentrate on just soccer the whole year?” said Spencer, who has players on her team that are part of the Muskie basketball, hockey, and volleyball teams.
“I don’t know if that’s fair,” she admitted. “But it would absolutely improve the skill level, so it would make coaching easier come springtime.”
But that sort of thinking is the kind that’s reserved the future. For now, the Muskies are focused on the present and with such a short season staring at them, they have no room for error and cannot be wasting energy on thinking of possibilities.
Tomorrow’s exhibition game will speak volumes on the current state of the team.
“We’re going to get a chance to see what the girls can do against another team prior to Winnipeg and it gives us an opportunity to make any changes that would need to make at that time,” said Spencer.
“I think we could take them to Winnipeg today and they’d play just fine, but they’re going to get better with every game,” she added.
“Until you get into a game situation, you don’t tend to see where your weaknesses are.”
And in a season that could only last four weeks, the earlier you are able to uncover those weaknesses, the better.
Muskies’ schedule
•April 28—exhibition game against Rainy River at Fort High (5 p.m.)
•April 29-May 1—St. John’s Ravenscourt tournament (Winnipeg)
•May 6-7—tournament (Fort High)
•May 13-14—tournament (Dry-den)
•May 18—NorWOSSA championship (Kenora)