The Standley Lake athletics program is built around community, with athletes supporting each other.
The Gators boys and girls soccer teams have caught that community spirit. The boys are at the girls’ games, and the girls encourage the boys.
When Jeff Vigil took the head coaching job for the boy’s team four years ago, the Gators hadn’t been to the playoffs in 13 years. He had to rebuild the team and develop the soccer community. He said promoting a soccer community is an important factor when coaching the team.
“Success isn’t always measured around losses,” Vigil said. “Success is measured around `are we able to keep the tight-knit community?’ The winning will take care of itself.”
Senior Jacob Belich said he believes having support from the girl’s team and athletes in other sports is the reason the boy’s team is successful.
“It’s not all about us,” Belich said. “There’s more sports at Standley. We try to support not only girl’s soccer but all the sports. We try to get them to come to our games.”
The Gators earned a playoff spot last year for the first time in 15 years. And in order to continue to be successful in the 2013 season, the squad will have to deal with losing one of the best goalkeepers in Cameron Chacon to graduation last year.
Ryan Fernandez, a senior, will finally get an opportunity to play after three years of sitting behind Chacon. The goalkeeper said he’s ready to take on that challenge.
“Hopefully I can keep this team strong in the defensive position,” Fernandez said. “Cameron did a great job last year, and I believe I can help this team in my position.”
The Gators will look to Belich, a midfielder, for guidance in returning to the playoffs again this year. Vigil has been coaching Belich since he started on the team as a freshman and said he’s liked watching him develop over the years.
Senior Tyler Atwood is also returning to the squad. Vigil said the center back who’s been on varsity for three years is very athletic, quick and strong. The coach hopes Atwood and Belich, will take the leadership reins.
Belich said he wants to make it to the playoffs again and has an idea of how he can lead his team.
“Show by example and hopefully earn the respect of my teammates so that they follow me,” Belich said.
The team will also have sophomores Kyler Fowkes, Kyle Iftodi and Nick Rosser back on the field this year. Vigil said even though they’re young, the three are going to be as much leaders as anyone else. With a year under their belt, they’re going to be players on whom the team relies heavily.
The Gators want to contend for a 5A Jeffco title this year. Vigil said they’ve built a couple of years of success, which will motivate them this fall. And now that the squad has tasted victory, Vigil wants just a little bit more. He said he hopes to give the team a good year of experience just like last year when they earned a spot in the postseason.
“The reason I do this is because I want to do something in my life as an adult to help kids experience things that I felt when I was a kid,” Vigil said. “Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, seeing them get rewarded, the community you work within gets so excited. That’s the experience you want to provide. At the end of the day, that’s just the most rewarding thing.”