NGS: Success On and Off the Field
By Ellen Oliver
The Nashoba Girls Soccer team is focused on success. But when asked about the 2013 season, Coach Pam Vaughan doesn’t talk about scores, records or superstar players. She uses a broader benchmark to measure success. “We’ve had a lot of success off the field,” she said, talking about the extra activities that support causes or promote team chemistry.
The two senior captains, Cori Gillen and Emily Kuefler, got together this summer and planned the season, including team bonding activities with a purpose. The team will be holding a pink game to support breast cancer research and recently held a car wash with 100% of the funds going to former player Anna Young who is in need of a double lung transplant.
The team went hiking together, host spirit days, ran the Alison Murphy 5K as a team (Murphy is also a former player) and participated in the Color Vibe 5K at Davis Farmland this past weekend. While these activities aren’t mandatory, the girls are anxious to help. “We’ve had about 90% participation in the events. The girls want to help,” said Vaughan, adding that the “team” means varsity and junior varsity.
There’s success on the field, too, with the team holding strong in their league with a 4-1-2 record. After going undefeated in the regular season for several years (Coach Vaughan said she doesn’t track those records), NGS had a recent, rare experience: a 2-1 loss to league-foe Algonquin. “It’s definitely disappointing,” said Gillen, a four year player. “I don’t think I’ve ever lost a game on Nashoba.”
Coach Vaughan said, while they are not happy about losing, it’s not something they dwell on. “We don’t like it, but it happens,” she said. “Some teams are afraid to lose and they don’t play well. We got that out of the way, now we can get ready for the next game.”
Coach Vaughan passes on advice given to her as a player to never play with anger, always play with pride.
“I tell the girls if you are bothered but a loss or a tie, then play with pride, not with anger. Playing with pride means taking responsibility for knowing you could have played better and understanding what we need to do as a team. Pride includes the team, anger is individual,” she said.
Gillen said although she and Kuefler are the only seniors on the team, she’s been impressed with her younger teammates, including the seven girls new to varsity. “The younger girls are really stepping up,” she said. “They aren’t so nervous. I was nervous when I was their age. They probably are, but they’re not showing it and they’re not getting nervous in games.”
The girls may be calm thanks to Coach Vaughan’s preparation to put her players in familiar situations during game time.
“We don’t have superstars on this team. Everyone has attributes to contribute. It’s not all about talent. It’s about getting the talent to work together and utilize our strengths to work together as a team.”
Nashoba plays in Midland A, which has had some surprising games so far this season. “Wachusett has five ties,” said Vaughan. “North Middlesex beat Algonquin for the first time in ten years, even though they were out shot 32-2.”
According to Coach Vaughan, NGS is still adjusting to the 2013 season, moving people into new positions and still seeking their rhythm. “We’re not playing as well as we can, which is a good thing. We can sort everything out for the second round of playing these teams,” she said.