Club Team Gives Players Next Level Opportunity
Since 2009, the UA women’s club soccer team has given high school and competitive soccer players an opportunity to play at a higher level.
Freshman right back Haley Reynebeau played at Har-Ber High School in Springdale for four years before coming to Arkansas. While she didn’t attract any Division 1 schools, she had the chance to play small college soccer.
“I was going to play at a tiny college in Kansas, but I wanted a big school,” Reynebeau said. “I’m from a 7A school, so I wanted football games on TV and stuff like that.”
Once on campus, Reynebeau sought out information on the club team and tryouts. She finally got the dates on the last day of tryouts.
“My friend and I were kind of worried, but all of the girls were really sweet,” Reynebeau said.
When the final cuts were made and the team started playing together, none of the girls really knew each other and they formed separate “cliques,” Reynebeau said.
However, these divisions disappeared after a road trip to Texas to play three games.
“After we drove to Texas, we bonded and everyone gets along with everyone now,” Reynebeau said. “It’s kind of like a high school team.”
Unlike a high school team, though, the team only practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours each day. Depending on classes and studying, some girls can only make it to one practice per week and sometimes miss games.
“We take it seriously, but we don’t practice every day,” Reynebeau said. “Our coaches realize that school comes first and they understand that we have to miss sometimes.”
The coaches’ understanding comes from the fact that they are also students and players on the team. Seniors Nora Farrell and Megan Johnson share the coaching duties.
“Playing as well as coaching is very rewarding because I not only get to know so many wonderful athletic women, but I get to constructively coach them,” Johnson said. “It’s a wonderful experience and I look forward to doing it in the future.”
This season, the Razorbacks have played five games and will play their sixth and final game this Saturday against Texas A&M-Texarkana. They have a 1-3-1 record playing in the North Conference of the Texas Collegiate Soccer League.
Before their first game, the women’s soccer club had not practiced much and barely knew each other’s names. They lost to Oklahoma State 3-1.
“I thought we did okay for not ever playing with each other,” Reynebeau said.
Reynebeau said their play has improved steadily over the season as they started “figuring everyone out.”
Their lone victory of the season came against Texas Tech. Reynebeau stresses that their conference is very tough. Texas Christian, which beat Arkansas 6-0, featured several players that had quit the NCAA team and joined the club team.
If any girls that have played high school or travel soccer are thinking about joining, they should “definitely try out,” Reynebeau said.
The club’s fee is $75 and covers all of the costs of traveling, such as transportation, lodging and food.
Even if soccer isn’t your sport, Johnson still advises students to get involved in other club sports.
“I love getting to know the girls, the athletic department personnel and the other club teams,” Johnson said. “I encourage others to get involved in club sports so they can hopefully gain similar wonderful experiences.”