On a mile-long warm-up jog earlier in the Rock Bridge girls’ soccer season, the team paused to stretch, forming a circle around the two freshmen that were to lead the stretches. All of a sudden the team charged at the two freshman in the middle, Kelsey Reimler and Isabeau Reiske, picking them up and throwing them into the nearby lake.
“They all charged and everyone picked up a freshman, and they just ran and threw us in the lake and we had to go head under,” Reimler said.
The lake throwing ritual is just a “perk” to being a freshman on the soccer team. They also have to fill water bottles, clean up after practice, sort balls and lug the 50-pound water cooler around during tournaments.
And while Reimler and Reiske share the distinction of being the only freshman on varsity, that is where their similarities seem to end.
The two freshman bring very different personalities to the team. While Reiske, a defender, is soft-spoken and quiet, Reimler, a forward, is more goofy and outgoing.
“Beau’s really quiet,” Gates said. “We don’t hear much out of her. Coach Kyle had a goal of getting her to speak 20 words to him one night and I don’t think he reached his total.”
Originally the coaching staff wasn’t planning on putting any freshman on varsity to start off the season, but when they realized they needed another forward and defender, Reimler and Reiske seemed like the best fit.
Since then Gates has seen improvement from both of the freshmen — and enough from Reiske to earn a starting role.
“I think Beau definitely has progressed,” she said. “I think she’s more confident back there. I think she’s calm and collected. If something bad happens she doesn’t freak out, she’s just calm and collected. She’s definitely a huge asset back there.”
“The past few games [Reimler] has worked really hard and I’ve seen a huge difference between the last few games and the games before that.”
While the freshmen had known each other before the season, they said they have become much closer because of soccer.
“We’ve gotten closer since the season started,” Reiske agreed. “You don’t have to do all the cleanup by yourself and you’re not going through it by yourself.”
The girls say that while they are both looking forward to being sophomores next year, being a freshman on varsity wasn’t all that bad — even if it was a little intimidating at first.
“I was scared the first couple practices but [the other girls] have been so nice and welcoming it didn’t really matter,” Reiske said.
“At first, you really didn’t know the team that well so you’re just there trying not to screw up on the first day so they don’t think you’re back.”
Reimler agreed, but said after a while that feeling goes away.
“Whenever you do a good thing they’re there to help you, and when it’s tough they’re there to just keep you going so you don’t get down on yourself or anything, and it’s really encouraging,” she said.
With almost a full year of experience behind her, Reimler said she is looking forward to the perks of not being a freshman — no more cleaning up or harmless teasing from upperclassmen. But she also says she wants to use her experience to help other freshman who make varsity in years to come.
“I’m looking forward to being able to be a role model for other freshmen, (now) having known what it’s like and to be inclusive for them so they don’t feel left out and everything,” she said. “And just not have to get all the initiation that goes with being a freshman.”