Wellington girls embrace workload
First-year Wellington School girls soccer coach Burak Ergezen and his assistant, Natasha Ballard, weren't sure how the players would react when they implemented their preseason training schedule this summer.
Ballard, who also is new to the program, said she and Ergezen were pleasantly surprised that all of their athletes not only accepted, but actually embraced the increased workload.
Ergezen is Wellington's fourth coach in three seasons. The Jaguars started last season under Billy Blake, who resigned midseason for personal reasons and was replaced by assistant coach Adam Ashbrook on an interim basis.
The Jaguars finished 6-9-1 last season, losing to Ready 1-0 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
"We had really low numbers when we started our preseason training in June, mostly because a lot of the girls were on vacation or participating in other things," said Ballard, a 2006 Reynoldsburg graduate who played four seasons at Capital University before graduating in 2010. "But the thing that really stood out about this group of girls is how compliant and ready to work they are. I've never been around a group this polite and humble, and they never complain about anything we ask them to do. They're very accepting of new methods.
"We've been working hard on fitness since the summer because we're going to need to be in shape with only (17) girls in our program. But they're improving quickly and they're now keeping up with drills that we did when I was in college."
The Jaguars, who opened Aug. 28 at Columbus Academy, return seven players in seniors Kayla Barton (forward), Helen Fite (defender) and Neale Snyder (defender), juniors Annie Postle (defender), Gab Smith (goalkeeper) and Sarah Wakeman (forward) and sophomore Carolyn Faller (defender).
Also on the team are juniors Lucy Canorn (midfielder), Nia Kaudo (defender), Natalie Morse (defender) and Mallory Tannous (midfielder), sophomores Molly Anderson (forward) and Riley Barnwell (midfielder) and freshmen Gwen Hughes (defender), Zoe Mak (midfielder), Abbey Mayne (forward) and Annie Steele (midfielder).
Barton, Postle and Snyder are team captains.
Wellington is looking for its first winning season since 2008, when it finished 12-4-1. The Jaguars went 6-9-2 in 2009 and 8-9-1 in 2010.
"We've begun the slow process of changing this team's culture and the girls' attitudes," Ballard said. "We're looking to build a strong program so we can have different outcomes than we've had in the past."