West is home to success on all different types of fields. On the pitch this year however, senior and varsity soccer captain, Nick Lumbard, said he has plans to make this year one for the record books. “Last year was a tough year because we weren’t a bad team by any means, we just never really ‘finished’ the game. Looking back it’s clear what the issues were and now we have to go back on the pitch and implement them,” Lumbard said.
The Titan Soccer team is coming off of a good year as the nearly reached the championship, but like other West men’s teams, the Titans only reached the cusp of a state championship.
In regards to that idea of a “finished” game, Lumbard said, he plans on coming out with the same energy in the first half as in the second half. “This year the game plan didn’t drastically change, to be honest. It’s relatively the same but as a group now we can’t be giving 40min of extremely hard work and leave the other 40min to just see what happens,” Lumbard said.
Lumbard said that the obvious goal for the team is that state championship, but Lumbard plans on taking it one step at a time. “My goal for the team is to get our Conference and District titles back because the games after that you can take one at a time. It’s the season itself you can’t get back, so those games are huge. Being able to get those titles back for this school would be very rewarding due to the fact the only year I haven’t seen those was last year,” Lumbard said.
Lumbard himself has actually led the effort for the Goal for the Gold campaign. This is a game on October 8th at home against the Blue Springs South Jaguars where all funds from the game go towards childhood cancer research. For Lumbard, the connection to this night is personal. “Most importantly though these kids that have been fighting deserve all the help they can get. We are all blessed enough to wake up everyday and do the things we love. And they wake up wondering if they will get to see those they love so helping is important” Lumbard said.
Essentially, according to Lumbard, the game is much more than a game. He continued when speaking to the purpose of this night, “This game hopefull will affect them positively by giving them up.” Lumbard said he wants these kids to feel apart of something. This is the first year of the event, but Lumbard wants the legacy to continue on past his graduation. Lumbard lost loved ones to cancer, so he wants those in a similar position to fight for them.
Lumbard received multiple awards after last year’s season, one of the awards being Varsity Captain. However, Lumbard said that it is a new season, meaning a clean slate for him as he states, “I have these awards from last year that, to be honest, don’t mean anything anymore because it’s a new year it’s now expected.”
Lumbard said he is not taking the position of captain lightly, as it is not simply a title for him. The responsibilities that come with a captain will be his number one priority, he said.
“Being a captain to me in my life and my family is an expectation only because I’ve been in that role before. There is no excuse to not live up to your past self other than you were too lazy. To me being a captain doesn’t show like ‘stature’; on the field if that makes sense. It honestly is a title given to those who take control when needed and when things get rough can take the blame,” Lumbard said.
Lumbard has the task of getting together the entire roster while being the only captain. Lumbard recognizes that some might say that job may require more than one man. “The biggest challenge will be how it is every year. The players are all new and all come from different backgrounds and coaching styles,” Lumbard said. “Getting a group together and giving them 3-4 weeks and then playing is tough no matter what team you’re on.”
Senior teammate and friend James Perkins said he is just as determined to have the taste of success as his captain is. However, Perkins’ said his motivation comes from a more internal place, as he believes that in order to win one must have the attitude and mindset they are going to win. James went on to say for example, “if you are on the bus going to another team, who’s supposed to be really good, and you believe that they are good enough to beat you, you will naturally be beat.”
Similar to Lumbard, Perkins said he plans on taking the season one game at a time. He said he wants to first finish the season with a positive record, then worrying about going the distance in the state tournament later. Perkins said he plans on prioritizing playing as a team, as he recognizes the wide range of background that come into the program, and scoring more goals than he ever has before in a season.
Another varsity member, senior Noah Jenkins, says agrees with his teammates regarding unity rather than individuality. From last year, Jenkins said he learned, “that this year we need to work more as a team and not just individual players. We needed a lot more training as a team for the pre season so we come out stronger than last year. I also learned that we have to start finishing our games better because that’s where we blew it.”
Jenkins said he has a more personal motivation to be the best he can be this year, as he has been playing under the pressure from his cousins, who played at West in the past. Overall, Jenkins said he just wants to be a stronger player while being able to organize different lines of play in order to beat teams.
Jenkins will return to the center spot this year, a position that he has not played in nearly three years. While he says that it will be jarring, he claims that it will help the team overall as it is a more supportive spot.
Jenkins and the rest of the team all have said they plan on taking the season one game at a time, but still are keeping that state champion mindset.