COLUMBIA — Hickman senior Cody Gordon stood on the sideline with a soccer ball in his hands and waited to enter his team's home game Thursday afternoon at Robert M. LeMone Field.
When the referee stopped play to let Gordon enter the game, he ran onto the field and handed the ball to fellow senior Brad Storm, whom he was replacing. As Storm reached the sideline, coach Adam Taylor told him that if he dropped the ball before halftime, he would be running sprints during the intermission.
The tactic continued for the rest of the first half of the Kewpies 5-0 win over Southwest Early College Campus High School (2-10). Ten Hickman players, including eight starters, were strongly encouraged by their coach to value the soccer ball.
"Our possession was pretty terrible, and I was trying to get them to value the ball," Taylor said. "I felt like we turned the ball over way too much in the first half."
Taylor said he got the idea from the practice of football coaches making fumbling running backs carry around a football to learn to value it.
"I was thinking, 'how can we get them to actually appreciate the soccer ball?' And that would be to actually physically make sure that you take ownership of it," Taylor said.
The lesson continued at halftime. Taylor made each Hickman (8-12) player take a soccer ball with them to the corner of the football field where they were playing before he gave his halftime speech.
Before beginning his speech, Taylor stood on the 10-yard line, made his team get in a single-file line on the goal line and had each player pass him their ball.
"I was just trying to see if they could connect a 10-yard pass," he said. "I talked to them about the fact that that was pretty much what they were getting in the middle of the field in the game."
"I was pretty intense with them," he said. "I got into them quite a bit."
Taylor said his team didn't respond in the second half as well as he would have hoped.
"I can't say it was much better," he said of his team's performance after halftime. "One of my assistant coaches made a great analogy and said, 'I feel like we're on a sinking boat and there's holes being plugged and when we plug one, another one opens.'"