New season, new schedule


Lyndsay Neitzel

The day after tryouts were done, Sr. Xander Frederickson came to the first practice of the season. Coach Hoa Nguyen spoke and distributed the new schedule. Frederickson perused it and noticed a difference. On the schedule, next to October 3rd read “OK Red Conference Tournament.” Reading through some more, another one popped up to be played on Thursday, October 6th. Frederickson, along with multiple others, had faces of confusion. Why change the schedule if it was perfectly fine? Why change something that wasn’t broken?

   The old schedule. Where each team in the conference plays each other twice during the season. Once at their home stadium, once away at the opponents’  stadium. It gives each team the opportunity to recap and adjust their line-up  before the second half of the season starts. 

   This is Jr. Nick Krupka’s first year on the varsity soccer team, and first year with the new schedule, for that matter. While playing on the junior varsity team the past couple years, Krupka favored the old schedule, with playing all teams twice in the season. “I like being able to play conference teams twice a season because it gives us a chance of seeing teams that we know more often compared to non conference teams across the state, ” Krupka says. 

   Frederickson also adds that the old schedule has his preference. “In all honesty, I prefer the old schedule….I think it gives the team a chance to prove themselves worthy of beating a team instead of settling with a bad game. Perhaps by playing them twice you may have the opportunity to get ‘revenge’.” 

   Having this schedule gives the opportunity to schedule games against non conference teams. Having home games gives the chance to invite opposing teams to your own stadium along with family and friends too. While having away games gives the chance to visit and experience other stadiums. 

   The new schedule. An inside look from Athletic Director Bill Kennedy, “This ultimately takes the new schedule and takes the number of games from 14 to 10.  This allows for greater flexibility in scheduling for all of the league schools.” Kennedy said. 

   This new schedule for the soccer season has been brought up repeatedly for the last decade. Kennedy said, “The OK Red was the only division in the OK Conference who did not schedule in this fashion.” He also mentioned,  “The idea of playing one game vs. each conference team then seeding for a 3 round tournament had been brought up repeatedly over the last decade. We used this format in the Fall following the Covid shutdown as the season was shortened and the idea gained steam again.” 

   Returning Sr. Justin Kuiper, is an outstanding goalkeeper for West Ottawa’s soccer team, and has played through both schedules at the varsity level. Kuiper said, “For the most part, I prefer the new schedule style.”  While having the chance to play a guaranteed two games against each OK Red team, playing a tournament style format gives each team another chance to be the underdog. 

   “The new scheduled conference tournament format adds another level of competition…the most beneficial thing about the new schedule is the opportunity to prepare for districts.” Kuipers said. With districts right around the corner, the team needs all the practice they can get to prepare for when the time comes. Having multiple tournament games, it assists everything and everyone for the upcoming competition as well. 

   The team finished the OK Red Tournament losing to Mona Shores with a shocking score of 0-3  in the district semi-finals. The team ended the season seventh in conference.