After being dropped off by his mother at the Reseda Cleveland, Tristan Cordero carried his new shoulder pads from the parking lot to the locker room on Thursday afternoon, the first day City Section players could wear helmets and shoulder pads in practice.
Cordero had never put on shoulder pads before, but he was confident he wouldn’t have any problems.
“The coaches showed us a video,” he said.
Thank god for YouTube.
Assistant coach Mario Guzman still said it was chaos for about an hour helping players with shoulder pads, helmets and mouthpieces. The big problem with helmets are the chin straps. Some landed above the player’s lip and didn’t let him speak. Players should have formed their mouthpieces by taking them home, placing them in boiling water, then in cold water, and biting to make them fit.
And just wait for the duel drills to start.
The good news at Cleveland and other schools is that enrollment has increased. Coach Peter Gunny recalls having nine players for his first training session during the pandemic in 2020 and a total of 27 in his program for the spring 2021 season, with no junior varsity team. Now he has 102 players.
Yes, there is still a lot of paperwork to do before players are even allowed to practice, so there were around 85 players on the field. It is up to the sporting directors and nurses to release the players. No one is allowed on the field without a physical examination, and this has become more important as more stories surface about previously undetected athlete ailments, particularly of the heart.
“It’s extremely important,” Gunny said of the physical exams.
It’s funny to see first graders learning about soccer. Take Cleveland’s new kicker Fernando Almendarez, a veteran soccer player.
“I don’t know any rules,” he said.
That came after a Cleveland assistant coach told him, “As long as you put the ball in the end zone, you don’t have to worry about tackles.”
Cleveland, led by Colorado State team Kory Hall, is expected to be one of Birmingham’s challengers in the West Valley League.
Two freshman twins came from Omaha, Neb., and enrolled. Cobe and Cameron Green are both 1.75 meters tall. One is a linebacker, the other a receiver. Gunny hopes they do as well as Hall, who has unexpectedly arrived from Las Vegas and has become one of the best players in the city section.