The ABAC Fillies soccer program is a kick away from beginning the 2013 fall season with expectations to bring ABAC another winning record.
In his eighth year coaching the Fillies, Jimmy Ballenger has placed a great spotlight on Fillies' soccer success.
This year's team includes four international players. The Fillies have six returning sophomores, including lead scorer and All-American Nikita Morris, as well as 15 upcoming freshmen still warm from their high school season.
“The difference to me between a freshman and a sophomore is the playing experience. I’m very loyal to my sophomores and give them more of a chance to prove themselves on the field while freshman can still earn their playing spot by hard work,” Ballenger said.
The players as a team must find a way to bond early in the season. Ballenger calls it “team chemistry” and believes it is critical for such a team sport as soccer.
Communication and teamwork will be necessary for a smooth sailing season on field and off. Players need to push themselves in class, studies and on field in order to have a successful season.
“The best players will be on the field. We want to win games. Academics and attendance are equally important and have a big influence on playing time,” said Ballenger.
This fall will be the eighth year in existence of the soccer program. In six of the seven seasons, the Fillies reached the play-offs.
After being complimented on the success of the program, Ballenger said, “That record could change at any moment though, so we have got to work hard as we can. I believe that if we do that, everything else will take care of itself.
"We want to make the play-offs. A goal for the Fillies is to reach double-digit wins. Ten or more wins will set us into the playoffs.”
Soccer is the world's biggest sport and over the last few decades America’s involvement with the sport has exploded. Many athletes, both male and female, are turning to soccer and are recognizing it for a great cardio workout -- regardless of the amount of skill one possesses.
The Fillies do outreach in local communities to further the influence of the sport. The program recently participated in the start of Cook County’s varsity soccer program as well as in kids' soccer camps.
Ballenger complimented and thanked the fans of the Fillies soccer team who came out to give loud support last season.
“We’ve had more fans at away games than the other team had at their home field and we appreciate that level of dedication and support. We want the first home game packed out,” Ballenger said.
The schedule will be posted online through the ABAC website. The first home soccer game will be Sept. 3.