Simmons soccer team spends spring break training in Barcelona
The Simmons soccer team traveled to Barcelona during spring break for the chance to compete and train internationally while also experiencing Spanish culture.
The trip was led by Head Soccer Coach Erica Mastrogiacomo and Assistant Coach Caitlin Schimmel, who took the team to Spain for the once in a lifetime opportunity to train with Spanish coach Pere Garcia, who taught the women the "Spanish style" of soccer. We asked Team Captains Justine Beauchamp '13 and Ashley Wheeler '12, and midfielder Jennie Holloway '14 to explain more.
- What was it like to train and compete in a country such as Spain?
- Ashley: It was a great experience, but challenging at times because we had no way of communicating with the other team or the referees. What I really loved, though, was listening to the Coach we trained with talk about the game of soccer. In Spain, soccer is not just a sport, but a lifestyle and an art. They live for the game and that is something we have never seen in the States with soccer.
Justine: It was nerve-racking, exciting, challenging, and overall very worthwhile. When training with Coach Pere, we were taught that they play the ball quick and carefully, and that movement off the ball is more important than movement with the ball. Our favorite quote from Pere was that "the ball is a jewel," and you should be sure not to "give it away as a gift."
Jennie: The game of soccer in Spain is more than a game, it is part of their culture. This is not the case in America, so going to play this cherished sport in the wonderful country of Spain was an honor, but also intimidating. It was fun to see how the game was played there and to have the opportunity to learn from and play with Spanish players.
- What was your favorite part about the trip?
- Ashley: My favorite part was going to the FC Barcelona game. We were about 10 rows up, right behind one of the nets. We witnessed Lionel Messi score five goals and break a record for the most goals scored by an individual player and a team in a Champions League game. It was a great atmosphere and I have never seen that amount of passion for a sports game before.
Justine: The sightseeing days were so enjoyable. We traveled to less-touristy towns, such as Tossa de Mar, and were exposed to the natural beauty of the "costa brava." But, my favorite part of the trip was during our first game vs. La Roca Women. It was at the beginning of the second half that I scored my first international goal, and when running back to our side, the captain from the other team ran up and gave me a high five -- almost more excited about the goal than I was! It made the goal even more enjoyable because despite just being scored on, the other team appreciated the excitement that we felt.
Jennie: My favorite part of the trip was being able to just walk around a spend time in the city of Barcelona. I attempted to use my Spanish and I greatly enjoyed learning about the culture. I would go back in a heartbeat!
- How has your understanding of soccer changed?
- Ashley: It was funny when we were being trained by Coach Pere because he was telling us to spread out on the field and make the defense work harder, so as an attacker you don't have to work as hard, which is what Erica tells us everyday when we train. The FC Barcelona team make this strategy look so easy and with so little effort. Its a different style of play, but it works for them and thats why they are the number one team in the world right now.
Justine: It was so interesting to see how soccer was valued in Spain as opposed to its varied popularity in the United States. Regardless of where we traveled, soccer fields were seen in the middle of cities, on rooftops, and in nearly every park, and were always occupied by various genders and ages. Also, I grew to appreciate the patience and care Spanish players have with the ball. I will always try to incorporate this style of play back in the United States.
Jennie: I learned from Coach Pere that every player on the field is an important one. We were reminded that even if you do not have the ball at your feet, you are still a major part of the game. Everyone on the field plays a key role in protecting the ball and moving the game.
International athletic trips are monitored by the NCAA and teams are allowed to travel once every four years. In 2008, the soccer team travelled to Italy, and is now starting to plan for spring 2016!
To read more about the soccer team's trip to Spain, visit its blog: Simmons Soccer Goes to Barcelona. You can meet players, talk to coaches, and learn more about the Simmons Sharks on the Simmons College Athletics Facebook page.