Mountain Ridge soccer team playing for more than themselvesOct 04, 2021 12:16PM ● By Justin Adams
This season, the Mountain Ridge soccer players and coaches have sported taped wristbands bearing the name of someone that person is playing for. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Tradition is an important part of any good sports program. Whether it’s a handshake or a chant, something in the locker room or on the sideline, a good tradition can help bring a team together throughout the course of a season. For the Mountain Ridge girls soccer program, their tradition not only brings them together, but also reminds them that they’re playing for more than themselves.
“Especially as new coaches coming in, we wanted to figure out a way to play for something other than ourselves,” explained first-year head coach Jeremy King. “Ultimately as coaches, we believe we’re here to win soccer games, but also to develop good young women who will succeed in life. And in order to succeed in life, you have to care more about other people.”
King and his coaching staff weren’t exactly sure how to capture that sentiment in a team tradition, but then just before the season started, his mom was diagnosed with cancer, and that provided the inspiration for what his team’s game-day tradition would be.
Each game, when the players arrive at the field, the first thing they do is pass around a roll of tape. They help each other wrap their wrists with it, then use sharpies to write the name of someone they’ll be playing for that game.
Freshman Jocelyn Wright has been writing down ‘Mom and Dad.’ Her dad passed away from cancer earlier this year.
Following each game, the team adds their wristbands to a wall inside their clubhouse. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
“I was never able to have him at my soccer games, so it’s really motivating to have him on my wrist because he gets to play every game with me,” Wright said.
She also includes her mom because “she’s been my number one. She’s been there for every one of my games.”
Senior forward Emma Stephenson has been writing down the name of her uncle Delbert, who passed away during the season.
“Me and him are actually pretty close. He got me into cars and stuff. It’s been hard that he left, so I just wanted him to be with me,” she said.
She’s also written down the name of her boyfriend, who left on a mission during the summer.
“I think it’s brought us closer,” Stephenson said of her team. “Before games we all help each other wrap our wrists and then we all write what we want on there. It’s always sweet, knowing the meaning behind it. I think it’s really brought us together as a team.”
“It’s been fun to watch the girls really buy in. It’s fun to listen to the girls talk about playing for their grandma, or their uncle or a friend who’s having problems with this or that,” said King.
The result has been a team that’s unlike any he’s ever coached before.
“I truly believe that our team is closer together than any team I’ve ever seen. You’ll see seniors hanging out with the freshmen… And I can legitimately say that all season long, I haven’t heard of any drama,” he said. “Having stuff like this that they can do together, it’s helped the team grow immensely.”