Fall sports at Friday Harbor High School was the season that didn’t happen this year due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on San Juan Island. Even though students were unable to participate in intermural fall sports this year, coaches Kevin Cullin and Brett Paul organized a scrimmage match for the Wolverines soccer teams on May 7.
The Journal asked the coaches about the event they held for the students.
Journal: Why did you organize the scrimmage?
Kevin Cullen: We were gearing up for our first game when the surge in COVID cases on the island shut down the whole fall season. These athletes had worked so hard and had done everything that was asked of them to get a chance to play and to see that pulled away from them was difficult. When Brett approached me with the idea of an interasquad scrimmage it seemed like just the right thing to end on a high note. The athletes were able to put on their uniforms, compete with their friends, put on a show for their parents, and we were able to celebrate our seniors and their families who had put so much time and effort into these last four years.
Brett Paul: Although it was the right and safest decision for our community, it was discouraging to have our season canceled just a few days before our first game. Kevin, myself and our coaching staff, wanted to end our seasons on a high note and give our teams a chance to suit up and compete in a game-like setting — and give our supportive parents a chance to watch our teams play!
Journal: Why was allowing students to play soccer important to you?
Cullen: These girls love to play. We held out-of-season practices from September through December, rain or shine, just because they wanted to be together. Soccer provides these students a chance to get outside, get some exercise, learn to work hard, be built up, and be a part of a team. And especially this year, athletics has been a way to help these students feel confident in the world again. But for me, personally, it was important because of the opportunity it gave me to watch quality people working hard for something they love. One of my most favorite things.
Paul: Being physically active and competing has direct benefits to physical and mental health — which is so important for our players especially with the past year and the stress it’s placed on everyone on an individual level. As long as it is safe to do so, I want to provide every opportunity I can to encourage students to play soccer, stay active, and keep motivated.
Journal: What would you like to say to the graduating students?
Cullen: We had four tremendous seniors that have contributed so much to our program. To Darcy, Olivia, Alex and Fallon, I would just say thank you. For the leadership, for the effort, for the bus/ferry rides, for the card games, for all the “T,” for all that each of you brought to the team. I wish this season was different for you, but know that your legacy will be long-lasting. I have been so grateful for the opportunity to coach such fantastic people.
Paul: You are all remarkable. If this year has taught you one thing — it is the skill of resilience and perseverance. These skills are transferable to any life situation, team, or setting. Although it is sad that you did not have a soccer season for your senior year of high school, there are many opportunities to continue playing soccer after high school. I encourage you all to find opportunities in your respective communities to keep playing!
Journal: What words of encouragement do you have for students who may want to participate in sports next year?