A Powerhouse of 24 Led By 13

George Selamaj ('19) speaks highly of the senior leaders:

George Selamaj ('19) speaks highly of the senior leaders: "Our team won't be the same without them next year, so we have to take every game seriously and have the will to win more.” Photo Credit: Dan Burke

The Cape Henry Boys Varsity soccer team has never failed to impress their fans and their opponents, each year. This time around, the boys have a talented roster of 24, led by 13 seniors. With this many leading the team, they shared how it is not always easy agreeing with one another and maintaining a healthy team dynamic. All of the seniors have been working hard, juggling their Cape Henry practice and their club practices each night. With this, they are still showing an exceptional amount of commitment to the team and to their teammates standing beside them. Together, the 13 young men have worked tremendously hard to lead the team in a respectable manner this year, and have a goal to continue to lead in that way until they finish with a state title.

George Selamaj, ‘19, shared his thoughts about the team and its leaders, and said “They’ve improved our team a lot and are a good example to the rest of us.” George understands that his role next year as a senior will be different than this year. “There will be twice as much work to be done when we lose them.” With only one year remaining with this senior squad of 13, players like George are crawling closer to filling their shoes. “Our team won’t be the same without them next year, so we have to take every game seriously and have the will to win more.” George is certain that if they maintain their drive then they will find their successes and win a state title.

Wladimir Gassant, ‘19, shares his thoughts about the team this year and how he will be stepping up as a senior next year. “It’s bad to have 13 seniors this year because next year we are going to lose half our team. Next year, I have to step up and be assertive and provide leadership when needed.” He hopes that next year, the team can maturely play together and “pick up where we leave off this year. The most frustrating thing is when preseason comes around each summer, and we act like we have never played with each other before. As a senior next year, I am going to try and prevent that from happening.”

Nathaniel Thomas and Travis Horvath, both returners, are among this senior crew of 13. Both Nathaniel and Travis agreed that there is a significant amount of work that comes with leading a team, especially when it is full of 24 equally talented and knowledgeable players. Every player on the team is a strong player who understands the game and wants to be their best. “But with this, we are seeing some signs of careless, individual play”, says Nathaniel Thomas. “We’re getting better,” says Horvath when he was asked about the dynamic of the team this year. “We didn’t start well. We went into our season opener feeling cocky and too secure. Our dynamic was immediately ruined once we approached our first game that way.” As a senior, Travis understands the importance of taking every game with an open mind and not going into the game thinking too much.

Looking at each other with a confident smile, the boys believe that with the skill they have circulating through the team, they could hold a state title by the end of the season. Without a doubt, Nathaniel has full confidence that they will shape up into a team instead of a bunch of talented individuals. He shared that as a senior, it is his responsibility to secure a team dynamic and a group of young men that care about, respect, and play for each other. His approach to it all is encouragement. Nathaniel shared how nothing will be achieved if everyone on the team doesn’t feel appreciated and included. “I’m going to make sure that I encourage every player on our team, and for the players on the bench, I want to ensure that they know that their personalities and dedication doesn’t take a back seat to the starters.”

Phillip Usonis,’18, also agreed that the team is individually driven yet lacking team connection. “We have a better chance of winning, but we’re also just wasting that away because everyone is playing for themselves and we are really divided.” He shared that he is going to do everything in his power to “keep winning game after game, because the more we lose or go down during a game, the more we fight and turn to playing individually.” He aspires to have a strong team dynamic, but he knows that if the selfish individuality continues, then they will drift further away from the state title.

The ultimate goal for all of the boys this year is to win a state title. Everyone on the team believes that it is possible, but only achievable when the switch is turned from individual play to unified play. Although the boys struggle to unify at this point in the season, they all are willing to give everything to effectively use the talent of all the players and the leadership of the 13 seniors.