By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 1, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Two years ago, the Fort Rucker Youth Sports all-star 9-and-under soccer team made their way to the Alabama State Regional Tournament and finished in second place, but this year the team had even higher aspirations.
This year's Fort Rucker Black Hawks went further than ever, earning the title as champions during a district tournament Nov. 5 in Dothan where they were able to win all three of their games to take the No. 1 spot out of eight districts and advance to the state championship, according to Scott Wuergler, team head coach.
"This is the first time that anyone (I know) can remember that a Fort Rucker team has won a district championship," said Wuergler. "The kids did great and we had a really good group of (players) this year.
"They were disciplined, there were very coachable and they listened well," he said. "There weren't any bad attitudes on the team and that makes a big difference -- they were very motivated."
The regular season started in August and went through October, but it wasn't until the regular season ended that Wuergler was able to put his all-star team together. And even though he had all the players he wanted for the team, it was a team effort from everyone, including his assistant coach and the parents that contributed to the team's success, he said.
"(My assistant coach) was able to contribute a lot," said the head coach. "He was able to be there for every practice -- able to give me a lot of help with drills and help focus on individual skills.
"It takes a lot from the parents, too" said the head coach. "We had practice three times a week, plus the games, so the kids and the coaches can't do it alone. The coach can't get results if the parents aren't motivated, as well."
Parent support is a big part of the team's success, he said, and for parents like Heather Dunton and Jessica Wilson, they were more than happy to provide that support.
"As a parent, I'm very grateful for the opportunity for my son," said Dunton, whose son, Elam, plays on the team. "It gave (him) a chance to play on a more competitive level, and he's learned so much by playing with other soccer players with similar talent."
"I was very proud to see the Fort Rucker Black Hawks soccer team exceed all expectations," added Wilson, mother of players Mathias and Camillia Edwards. "It truly made this season a memorable one for me, as a parent, and for (my children to be) a contributing factor to the team. The success of the team has tremendously amplified their confidence while also providing them with a solid foundation towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle."
Dunton said that playing soccer has given her son the opportunity to exercise as an outlet for his energy, and one of the main benefits she sees that he's able to get out of the sport is working as a team.
"(Soccer helps him) to rely on others and that others are relying on him to play his position," she said. "When they win or lose, it is not any one person's fault -- they win or lose because they worked together as a team. He's learned that he's another player on a team that is working together to win, and it has been a great experience for him."
That ability to work together, win or lose, is something that Wuergler said he strives to instill in his players. Each game, whether they come out victorious or not, should be taken as a learning experience, he said.
"If you give an honest effort and do everything you're supposed to do, then you don't need to make excuses if you lose," he said. "You don't need to blame the referees or blame anything else. You don't win at everything that you do, so sometimes you just need to accept the loss and come back and give it a better try next time -- learn from those experiences."