Soccer Champs: The Family That Plays Together…
It’s what the Norfolk Collegiate girls varsity soccer team yells every time it breaks the huddle.
Not “Oaks.” Not “Team.” Not “Hustle!”
Since Kai Evans became coach in 2012, that’s been the team’s theme.
It’s a statement that everyone has a part, everyone has each other’s backs, everyone shares in the ups and downs. And the strength of a family is in its loyalty to each other.
So when Evans turned to injured senior Natalie Kanter with minutes left in the state championship game, it was another extension of the family philosophy.
The game was won. The Oaks led 4-0 and were frustrating Eastern Mennonite with their passing artistry, playing keep away.
Evans wanted to get Kanter, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the TCIS Championship game, onto the field for the final whistle along with fellow seniors Georgia Drinkwalter, Emily Cole, and Madison Parker, who was also injured but had played part of the first half.
The four of them have competed together going back 13 years and more than 300 soccer games.
“Do you have your jersey?” he asked Kanter, who was wearing team shorts and a warmup shirt.
But eighth grader Lizzie Howlett, also injured, did have her number 5.
Evans gave Kanter strict instructions to not to go near the ball or an opponent.
So with about two minutes left in the contest, Kanter and Parker trotted gingerly onto the field to join Drinkwalter and Cole as the clocked ticked to the title.
When the three tweets of the final whistle echoed across the pitch, the team raced to embrace Kanter and the other seniors, the family circle, a joyous family circle, complete one more time.