Campin' in Corpus: A lesson in team building
Aug. 17, 2009
Ashley Walker, Texas Media Relations
When the 2009 Texas Soccer squad took off for preseason training in Corpus Christi two weeks ago, just hours after arriving in Austin, they weren't really sure what to expect and how they would benefit from leaving their home field and facilities behind.
What came next was two weeks of living in a hotel, three girls per room, three workouts a day, including sessions of resistance training in the sand and a constant focus on the team and soccer. The players spent every waking minute together, eating, practicing, getting to know one another in what off time they had and focusing on building another successful UT soccer season.
Head coach Chris Petrucelli couldn't have been happier with the results of the team's excursion out of Austin.
"It was great for us," the UT mentor said. "It put us in a situation where we were living together for two full weeks. I think we started to find out a lot about each other, things we like, things we don't like on the field and off the field."
While most people might think being in such close quarters and being constantly surrounded by the same people for an extended amount of time might be difficult to get through, the team really took advantage of the situation and returned to Austin with a much stronger team chemistry.
"The team has really been coming together this year, we have all meshed really well and it's exciting," said junior Niki Arlitt. "I'd go as far as saying this is the best team chemistry we've had since I got to Texas."
Junior co-captain Erica Campanelli echoed Arlitt's feelings.
"We were surrounded by each other all the time, ate every meal together, had two roommates and I just think it was really good for us to get to know each other," added Campanelli. "Going to Corpus was good for us as a team because we had a lot more opportunities to bond. It had its perks and I think it was really good for us to get away for camp."
One of the team's least favorite parts of training camp that ended up having the greatest effect on building that team chemistry were the five, hour-and-a-half long sessions of sand workouts on the beach in front of the team's hotel.
When asked what those workouts were like, freshman Sophie Campise just had one word to say - Brutal.
Done at the peak of the day's heat, where temperatures would verge on 105 daily, the workouts provided the perfect environment for the team to work together and motivate one another.
"Training in the sand was tough," said senior co-captain Emily Anderson. "Luckily for us though, that was the one thing that really brought us together. You have to encourage everyone to work hard because it's so difficult and if you don't have anyone there, running on sand is not easy. When the whole team is yelling at you and encouraging, it makes you dig that much deeper to finish what you started and just give it all you can."
The team's time in Corpus was hard, and being away from Austin wasn't easy for a lot of the players. But the young women that were probably most affected by it was the group of eight freshmen who were already out of their element being away from home and around new people.
" I think that time away was probably best for the freshmen group because nobody knew them and they didn't know anybody," Petrucelli commented. "It's always hard to be in a new environment with new people and then on top of that, trying to play at a high level."
"It helped so much because now I don't have any problem going up to any of the seniors, juniors or any of the upperclassmen just to ask a question, joke around with or anything, it's great," Campise added.
After over a week of hard training, the team packed up and moved on to Baton Rouge where more training and a preseason scrimmage against Louisiana State awaited them. The team and coaches were also eager to see if the tightly knit team chemistry was going to play out on the field during a real match.
"I think we really started to see some signs of the team coming together," said Petrucelli about the team's 2-1 loss to the Tigers. "I think certainly chemistry is an important part of any team sport and the more a team can fight for each other, the better they're going to be."
Having returned to Austin Saturday night, the team was finally able to practice on their home field Sunday morning.
"It just feels amazing to be back in Austin mainly because I love the view from our stadium," said Campanelli after the team's first Austin practice. "It feels like home and our turf is gorgeous."
"It's just nice to be home," added Petrucelli. "I think that when you walk out on the field here, you start to get a sense for what we're about to do on Friday night and you start to replicate the environment more and more by being here so it just prepares us more to open the season at home."
Sunday was also the first chance for the newcomers to practice at Myers and really start to get a feel for what their time at UT is going to be like.
"It was so good to be back because it was my first time being able to practice on the field," said Campise. "It felt really good to just finally be as a team on the field, in the locker room and just experience it all."
The Longhorns open the 2009 regular season against TCU this Friday night at 7 p.m. and while their time spent in Corpus isn't gone from their memory, the excitement and anticipation of playing in front of their fans and on their home field can be felt at every practice.
"I can't wait to have my family and everybody see us play and just experience the home Texas atmosphere," said Campise.