Out of the 400 plus students currently enrolled at Chesterfield Community High School, 16 in particular have literally teamed up to accomplish something unprecedented in the school’s thirteen-year history. In a county where competitive soccer is more frequently discussed than the latest Board of Supervisors meeting, Community High has become part of the mix, kicking off its own soccer program earlier this year.
“It was a spur of the moment thing by the soccer coaches and the athletic director, Toby Campbell …,” said head principal at Community High Jamie Accashian, a Fan of the team. “The kids have really gotten into it. I think they really enjoy it and have a lot of fun, and they’ve really been successful so far.”
As of early May, the team is currently undefeated with a 3-0-1 record, the tie from their play against Amelia, and is currently not part of the Virginia High School League (VHSL). According to Accashian, the creation of the team started late in the season but does play, however, VHSL teams – Petersburg, Franklin, and Huguenot High Schools – as sort of a club or intramural sports team, picking up games where they can.
Though regional playoffs are out of the question for this year’s unsanctioned team, Accashian the educator focuses on the bigger picture.
“Number one, they are student-athletes. We do anything, as any school would, to help keep kids in school,” he said. “Sometimes an extra-curricular activity, such as a sport, keeps kids in school at times because of the interest in that sport. … I think it’s a motivational tool for kids. … and I think it’s a real win-win for the kids and for the school.”
When the idea to start the program first surfaced, gathering a sufficient number of players was a challenge for head coach David Gonzalez, husband of Community’s assistant principal Wendy Gonzalez.
“I didn’t think there was going to be a team; we were missing a couple people at the start,” said team captain, sophomore forward Luis Bonilla. “We didn’t have a full team.”
Also, according to Gonzalez’s son, assistant coach Austin Gonzalez, funding for uniforms and equipment were a challenge at the early part of the season. But thanks to the efforts of Gonzalez, the team was able to obtain sponsorship from local businesses like Heritage Chevrolet.
In addition to what Bonilla has done on the field, sophomores Cesar Lopez and Santos Oreallna have contributed as well, comprising only a fraction of the team’s talent.
Coach Gonzalez, a veteran soccer coach with Chesterfield United and other teams, said many presently on the team had not played soccer competitively prior to the season; however, as of late April the team is beginning to truly work together.
“… The key that has made the team successful is that we are able to help them understand that individually they can do something, but that they can be much better when the play as a team. They are very close.”
Next year, Gonzalez hopes to compete against other schools in the local district so the team has a chance at winning big; he said, “…That’s my goal – to bring a state championship to this high school … and I know these guys can do it.”
Next week, the team competes against Petersburg of the Central District. For more information on the team’s season, contact the school at 768-6156.