Change is a good thing — at least the men’s soccer team hopes so.
With a new coach and 14 freshmen, the Badgers are expecting the new talent to help push the team and set new standards.
First-year head coach John Trask feels with all the changes going on around the program, this year is a fresh start and an opportunity to make something new out of the program.
“I think change is good. We’ve had a lot of change within the department even. In some ways I kind of like it — it’s a fresh start. We can all set our own standards — coaches, media, everything about the program,” Trask said. “We have a chance to set a different standard, because the standard of the past hasn’t been set high enough. I think we can all admit to that.”
Trask isn’t the only one setting new standards for this season. The players themselves are setting their own goals and standards in an effort to quickly overcome any uneasiness.
Senior Aaron Nichols believes his team is capable of anything.
“As a team, I think we have high standards for ourselves,” Nichols said. “Like I said, we’re young, but there’s nothing that I don’t think we can’t achieve. And we’re all trying to buy into that and believe in that together.”
Trask is trying to mesh the older guys who have been through so much change in their careers at UW and the new players who don’t know any differently, into a stable team.
While Trask isn’t afraid to play freshmen, he’s hoping the new talent on the team will push the veterans and bring out the competition within the team that will transfer to the field. Aside from the fact senior goalkeeper Ryan Vint is tabbed to start in net, the rest of UW’s starting 11 remains fluid right now.
“We have some talented freshmen that will push these older players — and I don’t mind playing freshmen,” Trask said. “They know they’re all being critiqued on everything they’re doing and they know they can change teams at any minute. We’re hopefully bleeding some of that competition with these guys. It’s been pretty cool so far.”
Senior Jon Rzepka also noted the competition within the team and the need to prove himself to the coaches all over again.
“It’s kind of been tough because you have to prove yourself all over again,” Rzepka said. “It’s taught me to be a better player because it’s pushed me more to prove myself to the coaches and to step up my game to that next level.”
Despite trying to fuel some competition within his team, Trask still wants to see the veterans find their place and feel comfortable in his new system.
“I’m pulling for the older guys — not that I’m sorry for them — I just know where I’ve seen what they’ve gone through,” he said. “We’re pulling for all the older guys, it’s not like we’re trying to run these guys out the door. I made a commitment to them, to make sure they have success before they leave, whatever success is.”
Keeping hopes for a successful season in mind, the Badgers working on coming together and just being one united team.
Although they certainly have high hopes for a good season, right now Wisconsin is taking practice one day at a time, one game at a time. Being such a young team, they’re working on getting better each day.
“I think as a team, we’re young, that’s first of all,” Nichols said. “So every day we get out here, we want to try to improve, we want to get better and better. I know that’s a small goal, but every day we’re trying to come out here and just do one thing better.”
“Some guys one day look real good and some guys another day look real good,” Trask said. “We’re getting closer, we’re moving in a direction. We’re very much a work in progress, that’s the best way I can put it.”