by Gnim Bazim, 16
South Bronx United 97 Strikers experienced an unforgettable year. Being named team captain for the 2013/2014 season, its been with great honor to lead and help our team through the year. Even though we had an early exit from the East New York State Cup, we still managed to seize 2nd place in the CJSL A- Division. To end our year we did something that no other team in SBU’s history had done: take a four day trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I personally can say with the things we experienced as a team, we have grown tremendously throughout the year, as soccer players and as young men.
We had a brief, but enjoyable Fall season. We played a total of 6 games, we had a record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties. We could have done much better, but from those results we eventually were able to learn from our mistakes to help us with our spring season.
Two weeks before the start of our spring season game opener, our coach organized a team meeting in which we discussed our goals and objectives for the coming spring season as a team and as a family. Coach Andrew told us about Sophomore Skills, the new educational program that 10th graders would have to attend. Juniors in the team were required to attend SAT Prep. In order to play, we would have to maintain good attendance at the programs. More exciting, he discussed our trip to Cape Cod. After the meeting, my teammates and I had our minds set on taking 1st place in the CJSL league, going further into State Cup, and also going to Cape Cod to win the Memorial Day tournament, but most importantly have a wonderful life experience.
Everyone was excited the start of our spring season. We began with two straight 4-0 wins, one in our league game opener and the other in our state cup opener, and we could see how great of a team we were becoming. Unfortunately we were unable to continue our success in the next two State cup matches and were eliminated in the group rounds. We were disappointed but we still had a lot to look forward to. The team continued to work hard and show great results in the league. We were undefeated for a while and had a chance to clinch 1st place but failed to do so with a disappointing 1-0 loss to the eventual champions SC Gjoa. We ended the season with a record of 5 wins, 2 ties and just 1 lost and we came in 2nd place. I cant say we were thrilled with coming second but I can say we had played our hardest throughout the season and should be happy with the overall performances we put in, in every game played.
Our trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts provided the perfect end to the year. The purpose of the trip was not only to play and try to win the New England Soccer Classic but, even greater, for a chance to experience and get a sense of what life is like somewhere outside the city. This trip was very meaningful especially to myself because for college I would like to study possibly outside the city or state and this trip allowed me and many of my teammates to get that feeling of what it would be like. On our way to Cape Cod we had stopped at the University of Connecticut (at Storrs) to meet an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team and also meet with the admissions office to give us a tour of UConn’s amazing campus.
Early that evening, we arrived at the beautiful residential beach house that we stayed at in Wareham, Massachusetts. We were welcomed by Mr and Mrs Wiegandt. They were amazing and caring people who provided care and hospitality. We also were welcomed by players from a local high school team in which we interacted with and got to ask questions about Cape Cod. On Saturday, we visited Massachusetts Maritime Academy. As a club, South Bronx United has visited a numerous amount of different colleges but Massachusetts Maritime Academy was the first college any of us had seen that had a 540 foot troop ship (The TS Kennedy) as part of its school.
After visiting two amazing and astonishing colleges it was time for us to focus on the tournament, where we were playing teams mostly one year older than us in the U17 division. We managed to make it to the championship game winning against two tough opponents from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, 2-0 and 4-0. Before the Championship game, on Sunday we had time to ourselves, to study, work on homework, swim in the beautiful beach, sail a boat, play basketball and just relax, which was great. Our last day was the championship. We were all motivated to win and bring back the cup. It was going our way for a while, as we scored an early goal making the score 1-0. However, we conceded a very unlucky goal before going into halftime, making the score 1-1. The second half began and for a while we were dominating, but in a period of ten minutes we had conceded 3 goals, losing 4-1. As big of a scoreline 4-1 is, it was actually a very tight game, in which we were unable to seize our opponents. None of us wanted to lose and take home just second place. But we ended up taking home more than second place: we took home a life changing experience that none of us would ever forget.