Foundation Academy adds middle school girls soccer team

The middle school team — led by head coach Alfanso Garwicki — will bolster Foundation’s soccer program.

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  • | 11:42 a.m. November 20, 2019
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There’s a lot that goes into building a successful sports program, and that’s something that is well understood by the athletic department at Foundation Academy.

It’s part of the reason why this year saw the establishment of the middle school girls soccer team at the school, which will be led by head coach Alfanso Garwicki.

“This is my fifth year at the school, and I’m so excited and happy that I’m going to stay here,” Garwicki said. “I’m hoping we can win everything this year, and the next year and the next year. 

Alongside Garwicki, fewer people were more pleased with the news of the new program more than varsity girls coach James Grosshans — who took over last season.

For Grosshans, the program shows that Foundation is serious about building up the soccer culture at the school. There’s also the excitement of having a feeder program that can help develop and prepare players for the high-school level, Grosshans said.

“We’re growing as a school, and we’re jazzed about continuing to raise up the younger generation,” Grosshans said. “With the middle school stuff, especially being at a private school, it’s all together — so all of the girls from middle school and high school will be practicing on the same field and we’ll be kind of interchanging who is working with what coach off and on, just so that everyone is aware of who is able to do what.

“We’re really just building for that varsity program,” he said. “It just allows for that smooth transition from one program to the other.”

It’s a welcomed sign of relief for the soccer program as a whole, especially given the challenges of being undermanned throughout the 2018-19 season.

Going into that season, the varsity had 16 players at the most, and by the time the year ended — after a few injuries — Grosshans was down to just 10-and-a-half players.

“I had one girl who had just been cleared to be able to do sports again, but who still wasn’t able to fully run,” Grosshans said. “And I put her on the field for our district game and I was like, ‘Maddy, I just need you to stand’ … and she just stood in the middle of the field, just so I would have 11 people on my team so we could qualify and play in that game.”

This year the varsity team had more than 30 girls show up, while around 15 signed on to play for the middle school team. 

Getting those kinds of numbers is exactly what Garwicki and Grosshans were hoping to see. A big part of the boom was from girls who had watched the U.S. Women’s National Team win the World Cup during this past summer.

And the inspiration to play the sport has shown up early for the middle school team, as Garwicki’s girls won their first-ever match by a score of 5-1 Friday, Nov. 8.

It was a solid outcome, but as Garwicki knows, working with a team of young players and trying to establish a program is difficult.

“The girls have a really good intensity for play — everything is really good — but the techniques are not the best, but that’s just normal,” Garwicki said. “It’s their first year and maybe some haven’t played soccer before.”

Over the course of the next few months, the girls will play six more games and will spend three days a week practicing out behind the gym on campus.

As the girls on his team continue to grow on the field, there’s one big thing that Garwicki hopes they walk away with before they make the transition to the next level.

“They need to understand the game,” Garwicki said. “That’s probably the most important thing in soccer, and dominate in all of the fundamentals.”