ince 2006, Trinity Lutheran has been one of the few schools in Indiana that has fielded a coed soccer team.
But an interest in soccer has grown at the small private institution. Boys and girls from Trinity won’t play an all-boys schedule together anymore.
Starting this fall, the Cougars will field an all-girls soccer team for the first time in the school’s history.
With 14 girls verbally committed to playing, the Cougars will be able field all 11 spots on the pitch.
Story continues below gallery
“Coed had always been an option since we didn’t have a girls team,” Trinity Lutheran athletics director Aaron Rudzinski said. “We had some interest, especially in the lower grades, so we wanted to get the program started so it can be up and running. We feel like we have enough here interested, so it’s time to start it.
“We’re going to start out with some low numbers at first. We’ve had the interest for a couple years, but we held off. Any time you start a new program you want to make sure that the numbers will support a team.”
Jeff Nolting, a Seymour High School alum, will head the Cougars’ inaugural season.
Nolting started his coaching career in Batesville and has taught the game for the past 15 years.
Most recently, Nolting has coached the Columbus Express U13, 14 and 16 girls travel teams. Nolting headed Oldenburg Academy’s squad for four years prior to coming back to the area.
“I’ve known Trinity from Oldenburg, since we competed against one another in sports,” Nolting said. “I talked to Aaron (Rudzinski) and asked if they wanted to start a girls team and if you’re interested give me a call. Sure enough he did.
“Everything’s a first. You have your first team, game, practices, goals that’s all we’re trying to do. It’s a season of firsts. There will be improvements. They’re going to improve on a regular basis.”
Many of the girls who plan on playing on the team haven’t played organized soccer at any level.
“We’re trying to get a lot of touches with the ball and working technique-wise,” Nolting said. “Just trying to find small improvements every day. Once July starts we will start ramping it up as much as we can.”
For incoming freshman Maddie Bell, who also plays basketball and runs track, said soccer offers an alternative sport. And she heeded calls from returning player, incoming sophomore Maddie Roark.
“Maddie said they were having a girls team and we needed a lot of players,” Bell said. “I didn’t want to do volleyball so I came out. I’m looking forward to getting in shape for basketball and learning the sport. Coach has explained (soccer) well, telling me what I’ve been doing right and wrong. I’ve actually learned a lot, like how to kick it (correctly) and dribbling.”
Right now, Nolting is getting a feel for his personnel and helping with the basics for less experiences footballers.
Since there are only two classes in the IHSAA’s girls soccer, Class A and Class 2A, the Cougars will have to play many larger schools during the season.
“Most of the schools that have girls soccer are bigger,” Rudzinski said. “We have about 11 to 12 games on the schedule that will be a lot of 2A. It’s a wide range of schools, there are some up in Indianapolis.”
Rudzinski said the Cougars will only play a couple of Class A schools, including Oldenburg.
Three girls from last year’s coed team will join the newly formed Cougars program: Roark and incoming juniors Lydia Haak and Lexi Keller.
“I know there are a lot of players who haven’t played before, so I’m trying my best to help them learn how to play,” Roark said. “Hopefully we will develop into a really good team. I know there’s a lot of work we have to do but I think our team can have a good season.”
Nolting said that soccer offers another team sport, since Trinity has golf, cross-country and volleyball squads in the fall.
“It’s a great team sport,” Nolting said. “It’s a lot of discipline and commitment. My kids have all played soccer, and there’s a lot of camaraderie on the sport. With 11 positions on the field there is something for everybody.”