With football, volleyball and soccer seasons coming to a close, Fort Lewis College will say goodbye to some of its seniors and look back on the teams’ accomplishments this season.
The Football team wowed its student and community fans with four wins this year as new head coach John L. Smith hit the field for the first time at FLC.
“This year for me was a learning year without a doubt, just getting used to the league,” Smith said.
Smith said he had to learn the team, what they have, what they don’t have, and where to go from there.
“I think we have a good handle of where we need to be now,” he said.
Football finished its season winning a promising four out of eleven games, though Smith felt that the team should have won five games.
“We kind of gave it away, and it was a disappointed way to end the season on the last game,” he said.
Nevertheless, Smith said there is only room for improvement, and now that the team has felt victory on numerous occasions, next season will potentially see more wins.
“We are pleased with our players, and I think they are developing an attitude that it’s not okay to lose, and we have to be winners and push ourselves,” he said.
Smith said that most of the players on the team were in it more for the love of the game, and their attitude was refreshing. They were willing to train as hard as they needed to.
“I like our kids’ attitude, and I like their willingness to work hard, and I don’t think they had that attitude in the past to become winners,” he said.
Senior football player Jamal Campbell said the season could have ended better than it did, but the highlight of the year was winning several games under the direction of Coach Smith, though the team will be losing several of its seniors.
“I think the biggest thing you have to replace is leadership,” Campbell said.
Losing a big senior class can be hard, but Campbell said the younger players now have some experience of their own to bring to each game in the future.
Similar to Smith, Campbell said the team was playing for the school more than for itself, which changes the way the game is played.
“They have some great players in the program, and with the help of John L. Smith's coaching and recruiting, Fort Football has a bright future in sight,” he said.
Similar to Football, Volleyball saw several wins under new coach Kelley Rifilato who brought the girls a season of 10 wins and 18 losses overall.
Rifilato said it was a tough beginning because the girls had only 14 days to learn new schemes before their first match.
“It was easier for new girls and harder for older girls, but they were open and flexible to learning multiple positions,” Rifilato said.
Rifilato said that the biggest change she brought to the team was making the players compete between each other to earn their position on the team.
“It worked because the freshman were headstrong and the seniors still had fight in them,” she said.
According to Rifilato, it was a good season overall and with the changes made the players will continue to better themselves.
Following the close of Volleyball season, men and women’s soccer seasons ended with the ladies finishing with 16 wins and 6 losses and the boys finishing with 12 wins, 8 losses, and one tie.
“One of our goals was to make it to the national tournament, and we did that, but we lost in the final round,” said Damian Clarke, women's head soccer coach.
According to Clarke, making national tournament is always a goal and being able to compete and host the tournament is an accomplishment, Clarke said.
Clarke said that the team was very experienced and mature and like every year they will be losing their most experienced senior players, but that won’t stop them.
“We like to reload rather than rebuild to make strong players,” he said.
With new players comes new changes, and women’s soccer will continue to be strong in the future, he said.
In men's soccer, Head Coach Oige Kennedy said they had a rough start because of early injuries to multiple players.
“It was a little bit disappointing from the standards that we had set in the years gone past,” Kennedy said.
Their goal was to win the conference and if so, then move to nationals, but they were unable to this season, he said.
“We picked up some injuries early on in the season that meant we were left a little bit short on some players that we would have liked to have with us,” he said.
Kennedy said in the end the boys still finished strong and came together as a family and simply have to maintain that in the future.
“We’ve won nine conference titles, and we were hoping to make it the 10th this year, but hopefully we’ll come back stronger next year and get that title,” he said.
Senior soccer player Jordan Alexander said this year was a struggle because they could not find a sense of consistency with their games, which became disappointing.
“As only three of us graduate this season the team will not see too many disruptive changes, and in credit to the coaching staff, we have a plethora of players who possess natural leadership qualities, and they can take the reigns of the program,” he said.
Alexander said that the team grew to be a family to him, and he will be leaving that family in the hopes that they will continue to succeed.