Rock Bridge girls soccer coach keeps team on its toes

Players on the Rock Bridge girls soccer team know not to be seen by the coach while talking to boys.
Monday, May 23, 2011 | 10:45 p.m. CDT; updated 1:16 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Players on the Rock Bridge girls soccer team gather in a circle for a team cheer after practice Monday for Tuesday's sectional game against Camdenton. Bruins coach Marc VanDover says the fun parts of being on the team help the players bond and stay focused.

COLUMBIA — Boys are bad. 

This is the No. 1 rule of soccer for the Rock Bridge girls team. Midfielder Morgan Bumby learned this rule fast.

Bruins' Class 3 sectional game

Camdenton (21-3)
at Rock Bridge (15-7-1)

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Rock Bridge High School


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“My freshman year during preseason conditioning, they (the coaches) asked all the freshmen what the No. 1 rule of soccer was,” Bumby said.  “None of us knew, so we didn’t want to answer.”

Bumby said she knows Bruins coach Marc VanDover does not care whether the players on his team are talking to boys. “He likes to think of a reason to make us run,” Bumby said.

To VanDover, it's just an ongoing joke he has with the players. 

“They know I am just teasing them about talking with boys,” VanDover said. “They are going to condition anyway, so I just make it about something else.”

Joking with his players about staying away from boys is just one way VanDover keeps the team focused. He does grade checks weekly and speaks with the player’s teachers. But he also works to make the least enjoyable parts of playing on the team, like conditioning, fun and looks for things that will help the team bond.

Bumby said she suspects that sometimes the coaches make up stories to give the players a reason to run.

“One time we did wall sits for two minutes because he said he saw someone in the hall kissing a boy in school,” Bumby said. “We were all trying to figure out who it was, so we could chew them out, but we think it was just an excuse to have us run. We asked all the girls on the team who were in a relationship, and no one confessed. We think they just wanted us to get something done, so they made that up.”

VanDover used to work at Rock Bridge in the school's academic support center, and whenever he had a chance would make sure his players were thinking about the team. 

Defender Katrina Fox remembers being caught with a boy by VanDover at school.

“I was walking in the hallway with my guy friend, and we were doing this silly thing where you walk down the hall alternating legs,” Fox said. “He came up to me, and I was just like, ‘He is just a friend, though.'”

Friend or not, the players all ran for that.

Goalkeeper Carrie Levy said they all run together regardless of who was caught.

“He just wants us to focus on soccer,” Levy said. “Boys are just another distraction to soccer.”

During the team’s last practice Monday afternoon before sectionals, VanDover had the girls sit together for a pep talk. When he was discussing how everyone needs to focus on what her team can do and not be concerned with the other team, he stopped almost in the middle of a sentence and asked, “What is the No. 1 rule of soccer?”

The team replied in unison, “Boys are bad.”

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