Laker to Cobber to Tiger

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 2004

Very soon, Albert Lea students will face a new teacher.

The junior varsity girls’ soccer squad is facing its third coach in as many years.

Ann Edwards, a recent graduate of Concordia-Moorhead and a three-sport athlete (soccer, hockey, golf) for the Detroit Lakes Lakers, takes over for the Tigers’ JV.

Email newsletter signup

Edwards, who played hockey in college and has coached youth soccer in the summer, is anxious for the season and to see how well the summer program prepared the team.

“I have been coaching a girls soccer team for the last five summers,&uot; said Edwards, &uot;This year it was a terrific group of U-10 girls. A strong summer program is important to me because it is the feeder to the high school program. Without the summer coaches devoting their time and preparing the girls, the fall season becomes one long, uphill struggle. From what I have read about the success of Albert Lea’s summer program, it looks like a really deep talent pool.”

A deep community commitment is also vital for a top-level program, according to Edwards.

“Community support is so important,&uot; she said. &uot;In Detroit Lakes, soccer is pretty new. I was a midfielder and defender for the first high school team ever and captain my senior year. Our coach, who was from England, started the summer and high school programs from scratch. My favorite memory is from the twice-a-day workouts. Early on, we were told that we had to go out on a run around town and find 10 people or businesses to call our coach and tell him that the Detroit Lakes girls’ soccer team made them happy. So all of us made up a little chant, singing as we ran. About 15 people called him. It was a great team-building exercise and it got us out into the town letting the public see the new girls’ soccer team. Knowing that everyone is behind them means a lot to the players and the coaches.”

Like Albert Lea, Detroit Lakes has to compete against bigger programs.

“We faced Alexandria, Bemidji, East Grand Forks and Moorhead in the regular season,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;Detroit Lakes has a population of only a little over 7,500 in a county of less than 29,000. That is a pretty small group from which to field a competitive team. Still, last season the girls’ team made it to the Section 8A title game.”

Edwards hopes to help the Tigers do the same.

“I am really looking forward to working with (varsity) Coach Barnhill and (ninth-grade) Coach Byers to put together a seamless program that is competitive at every level,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;A big part of my job is bringing each player to her full potential. The players will be challenged and

100-percent effort at practice and in games is required. I try to keep it fun, but there is no getting around that it will be hard work. Getting used to another new coach is an adjustment for the players, but this will be a big adjustment for me too. The Big Nine is probably the toughest conference outside of the Twin Cities; quite a change compared to the smaller towns I am used to. It is very exciting for me to be involved with such a well established, competitive program.”