Boys Soccer Honored with Sportsmanship Award

By Ana Tantum, Matt Vonschleusingen, Jeremy Lewis, Nick Laskos
EE Staff Writers

When the Trumbull High School boys soccer team’s 2012 season began, the odds were not in their favor. On top of the loss of key players from their highly successful 2011 season, the Eagles were also put on yellow card probation. Despite this adversity, the team was able to overcome setbacks and receive the recognition they much deserved. The boys were awarded with the Southern Connecticut Jack Malladay Sportsmanship Award for the 2012 season. Coaches, players, and fans alike all agree that the yellow card probation the team was placed on was actually a blessing in disguise.

Last year, in the fall of 2011, the boys soccer team’s success was the talk of THS. After clinching the FCIAC title with an impressive win against Staples High School and an exciting run to the state championship, the boys gained the respect and support of their classmates. However, as a result of their postseason success, the boys played an additional 8 games on top of the 18 regular season games. With these extra games also came extra opportunities to earn yellow cards.

A yellow card is a penalty given in soccer as a warning for an offence to the rules of the game. Possible offences that can lead to a yellow card include flagrant fouls, intentional delay of play, or unsportsmanlike behavior. The Eagle’s earned a total of 16 yellow cards in the 2011 season.

Michael Herbst, Trumbull’s athletic director, feels “the extra games the team played in postseason were definitely the cause of the high number of yellow cards on the season.”

However, the FCIAC’s yellow card policy which states that if a team receives more than 15 yellow cards in a given season, they will be placed on probation in the following season, does not account for this. If they did not make a change to prevent earning such a high number of yellow cards, they would be ineligible for postseason play.

Mr. Herbst created a probation policy in order to adhere to the FCIAC rule, which the boys team would have to follow for the 2012 season. The probation stated that if a player receives a yellow card they would have to sit out for the remainder of the game, when typically a yellow card is only a 10 minute suspension from the game, not expulsion. Herbst held a separate ‘meet the coaches’ night for just boys and girls soccer to “ensure the probation was understood.” The terms of the probation created distress for many players and parents who felt it was unjust and would seriously inhibit the team’s season. Despite their worries, as the season unfolded, the probation proved itself to be beneficial to the team.

Assistant coach, Mr. Vitiello, stated the policy was a “constant reminder to be aware and intelligent.” The team had to be very conscious of their actions in order to avoid earning yellow cards and having to sit out the remainder of the game.

Coach Vitiello went on to say that the key to success with the probation policy was “speaking to the referees before games and the leadership of the team’s captains.”

The coaches made a point of speaking to the refs before each game to inform them that the team was on a strict yellow card policy and to please give players a warning before giving them a yellow card. This approach proved to be successful for the team and caused what Mr.Herbst felt was the “best officiating in years.”

The teams leadership consisted of co-captains Zac Chase, Tim Johnson, and Nick Weinstein. Coach Vitiello credited much of the success of the policy to this trio.

He felt they “set the bar high and were the best captains the team has seen yet.” The captains stepped up big to help the team adapt and work around this “bump in the road.”

Senior captain Nick Weinstein said, “Ultimately the yellow card rule was a good thing for the team because it caused us to be a more professional, obedient and respectful team.”

Although the team did not experience the same type of success this year as they did in the 2011 season, they were grateful to be awarded the Southern Connecticut Jack Malladay Sportsmanship Award for the 2012 season for their sportsmanlike conduct. Team members and coaching staff were all quick to emphasize that the yellow card probation in no way impeded on the success of their season.

Weinstein said “loss of talent is what hurt the team this year, not the yellow card system.

Vitiello seconded Weinstien’s point and added that “this season was a young team and rebuilding year for the program. The yellow card probation taught the younger players the importance of sportsmanship and will cause them to play in a more respectful manner in the future. Winning the Southern Connecticut Jack Malladay Sportsmanship award confirmed for the team that their efforts were worthwhile. It may not have been the FCIAC or state championship trophy they had hoped for, but this award confirmed that there is more to the sport than winning.”

One Response to Boys Soccer Honored with Sportsmanship Award

  1. Matt VonSchleusingen says:

    For somebody who did not follow the soccer team that much this year, this article was very informational and something i found interesting. I followed the team when they won the FCIAC championship,knowing the team had many yellow cards and knowing about the probation Mr. Herbst enacted. This is a great representation of the school, by our classy and respectable actions on the field this year, and we as a community at THS should honor the boys and girls soccer teams.

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