SUNNYSIDE — “Kill with one foot and pass with the other. Everyone needs to be on their toes and moving with their heads up and looking at where you’re going to go,” SHS Boys Varsity Soccer Co-Head Coach David Guevara called out during Saturday morning’s practice at Chief Kamiakin playfield.
About 30 players took to the thick green field and performed quick and precise touches as they practiced poised footwork – all at the same time of being able to receive the ball and keeping their heads up to learn their teammates’ names underneath the wave of golden sunshine and pleasant fall temperatures.
“Even though we don’t play until April or May, just getting these boys out here to understand that, hey, soccer is always a thing you have to work at. It’s never just a pickup and play and if you do that, you’re selling yourself short,” Guevara acknowledged.
The workout day was a stark contrast to the rain-soaked and cold weather on Thursday and Friday which was taken in humble stride by players and coaches who were happy to be just on the field together, stretching their legs and minds – all while following health protocols.
“It’s just a different mindset and the caution procedures that we’re making sure that we’re doing what is right for the kids,” coach reported. The athletes remain and practice together in small pods and their names are documented like an attendance sheet. Should something happen, players can be directly tracked.
Senior Diego Cervantes is a four-year varsity player and one of Sunnyside’s standout leaders. Coaches and players look for him to have a break-out season which will catch the attention of college coaches for playing at the next level.
“It feels great to be back on the field! I’ve been looking forward to this season and hopefully we’ll get to play,” Cervantes exclaimed. “I’m ready!”
The lightening quick forward leads the Grizzly attack and provides his teammates with options to make plays on the ball and score. “To keep pushing the ball forward and to show how our team is capable of scoring goals,” the eighteen-year-old conveyed.
He said last season’s team was ready to compete as always but didn’t get a chance to play a regular season game. “For me, I just kept practicing in case we could get back on the field.” Cervantes explained. The club player is accustomed to practicing and playing soccer in November.
Guevara is thrilled to see Cervantes return to explore those explosive talents and see where they may take him during his final year of high school eligibility.
“We tell these kids that playing for Sunnyside is a legacy. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. And I think a lot of these boys they definitely live up to the expectations and they’re excited.”