Moriarty High School’s boys soccer team recently kicked off twice-a-week workouts, and though a lot of time is spent on individual skill development, head coach Jordan Allcorn said his primary focus is helping his players stay positive.
“Just trying to keep them hopeful that they’re gonna have a season,” Allcorn said. “As they keep rolling everything back, I’m sure it’s natural for kids to feel like, ‘Why should I do all this work if we’re not gonna have a season?’”
The New Mexico Activities Association set Feb. 15 as the tentative start date for the postponed soccer season, but it states on its website that the dates of all the postponed fall sports “are subject to change due to the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic.”
So Allcorn—like a lot of area high school coaches—is getting his players together, masked-up, separated in pods, and going through various drills while trying to boost their spirits. The players work a lot on footwork and passing, but Allcorn has also gotten creative, like taking them to the Moriarty city courts for a round of soccer tennis.
“It helps with their touches and their ball control and it’s a nice way to get some competition going in a social-distancing way,” Allcorn said.
Last year around this time, the Pintos wrapped up a frustrating 7-11-1 season but ended on a high note with a victory over district rival Taos in their final game.
Now, with all that has happened this year—getting shut down in March, missing out on summer tournaments and scrimmages, remote learning, and having the fall season postponed—Allcorn said it will be hard to build up momentum as the team prepares for a February kickoff.
“Assuming we get to play, it’s gonna be like, all the sudden, ‘OK here’s your season, go ahead and start,’ ya know?” Allcorn said.
Allcorn stressed that holding regular workouts now is not so much about competition as it is about continuing the face-to-face relationship with the kids.
Freshman Isaac Dominguez agreed. “It’s really important to me,” he said about attending the workouts. He also just started working out with Moriarty’s basketball team. “Sports brings me a lot of happiness in my life and lets me see all my teammates that I haven’t seen in a while.”
After a blast of winter weather blew through the area last week, Allcorn had to cancel one workout and moved the other inside the gym at Moriarty Middle School. It was the team’s first indoor workout.
“It’s a little bit harder ‘cuz the ball tends to roll a bit faster [on the gym floor] so you have to be quicker,” Moriarty junior David Vaquera said.
This week’s workouts were back outside on the Pintos’ home pitch, and a big enough turnout allowed for two separate pods of masked players.
“They’re working hard, and the ones who are coming, they’re hungry for it and they’re grateful that they can do something,” Allcorn said, adding, “At the end of the day, we do this for the kids, so right now, it’s just about trying to provide an outlet for the kids and a safe place to go.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.