Arizona soccer has been a steady and consistent team that has averaged 12 wins a season over the last three years with an NCAA tournament appearance in all three seasons. With key returning players, Arizona is expecting to have a talented team with the potential of making the NCAA tournament next season.
However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, everything is up in the air, and this puts Arizona soccer into a unique situation. I talked to coach Tony Amato about the pandemic and how it has affected his program.
Here is a Q&A of the interview:
During this dead period, how difficult is it to do any type of recruiting?
TA: “Well, I think the hardest part is the evaluation piece of it because this would’ve been a time that for soccer there were some big showcases going on, there was one in Phoenix this weekend that is one of the bigger ones in the year and really big for us. So, not being able to get that piece is definitely tricky.”
How important are those canceled spring games in terms of chemistry and getting to know what you have?
TA: “It’s really important because the way the cycle works for soccer is that, you know, in the spring your seniors are not there, they don’t play from the fall, and your freshmen aren’t here yet. And so you have this core group. And some were starts and played a lot in the fall, but a chunk of them are not, and now basically you start the new team and then add in the freshmen this summer and then move into your fall season. So, the development of that core is really important from January until the summer, when the freshmen come in.”
What can a player do right now in this time of quarantine from home to help themselves with conditioning?
TA: “The most important thing right now is that they just got to stay active. Our strength coach has a great app called ‘bridge’ that he’s able to upload workouts and videos of certain exercises and things they can do. Still, the focus really is to keep them moving, and it’s not really about adding strength and power and agility right now, and it’s mostly from a general well being standpoint. If they just sit inside all day, do their online classes and study in their houses. That’s not great for your general well being, and so we’re just starting with that and these initial first few weeks till we know more of just trying to keep them active. ”
Do you guys have a meal plan or something that lays out what you want them to focus on eating during this time period?
TA: “Well, Phil Lewis is our nutritionist, and he does more of a drip effect of just little pieces of education along the way that we do throughout the whole year just to help educate them, and then they can make their choices based on that. Some make better choices than others, but I feel like right now we’re just doing that same thing, we have a team meeting on zoom today at 2:30. So we’ll just give them a little piece of that info each time we do a meeting. It’s not like we have a set meal plan. But, it is just little pieces of education that can be helpful to them.”
Looking forward to the start of next season, is there a chance we see a delay in the season?
TA: “All things would ultimately be on the table for the players to get back and compete and play the sport they love but I haven’t been in any of those calls or things like that. My guess is that college football will help dictate what some of that looks like for everyone else. But obviously we have to be out of the woods on the COVUD-19 issues before they can really consider any of that.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.