By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsApril 28, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 29, 2019) -- As Zama Middle High School's sports teams prepare for their Far East championship tournaments at the end of the season, coaches and players are assessing their strengths and weaknesses to finish strong.
The school's girls' soccer team, for example, won the title of the best Division II team April 20 in the Pacific East Soccer Tournament 2019, and plans on being a major contender at their Far East championship May 22 to 24, said Coach Manny Duarte.
The team lost the championship game 4-0 to Kinnick High School from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, a Division I team, but won against all the Division II teams it played during the three-day tournament, Duarte said. The team also came close to winning against Kinnick in an earlier game, but lost 3-2.
The team is playing well with an 11-3-1 record, Duarte said, and he expects the team to continue on the same path.
Meanwhile, the boys' soccer team just returned from their PAC East tournament, where they finished in fifth place, said Coach Gaetano "Nino" Campolongo.
The team considers this season a "rebuild" season because they lost eight seniors from last year's team and had only four returning players, Campolongo said.
The tournament allowed players to gain a better understanding of the level of the team, and a highlight was a win against Yokota High School from Yokota Air Base, Japan, which many consider a strong team, Campolongo said.
"The win has lifted the spirit of our players and given them confidence to believe that we can continue growing as team and have a great result for the Far East tournament in Okinawa," Campolongo said. "Effort, courage and heart are the words that continue bringing this team together."
Danny Davis, coach of the softball team, said the team placed fourth in their PAC East tournament, but the team is improving every day.
"Our record is 6-8, but that really doesn't depict how well we are working as a team and communicating throughout each game," Davis said. "Our team is young in skillset, but their desire, heart, effort and willingness to work as a team overcomes their shortfalls. One of our team goals is to finish the season feeling satisfied. I believe they will do this and more."
Davis said the team looks forward to the Far East tournament at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, May 22 to 24.
"We have seven games left until the Far East and they are against our toughest competitors," Davis said.
Daisy Hayes, track and field coach, said the team's equivalent to the PAC East tournaments is the Kanto Finals, which take place May 11.
Several members of the team returned from last year, and those who are new are developing well in the sport, so they have had some good results, Hayes said.
"A lot of people have been (setting personal records) every single meet, so they've been getting better and better each time and really applying what they've learned in practice to their competition mode," Hayes said. "We're really just trying to get them to transfer drills and everything into their throws, jumps and runs."
A long list of athletes have qualified for the Far East tournament May 22 and 23, Hayes said, and she expects them to do well.
Dirk Schmiedel, coach of the baseball team, said the team has a lot of new players this year, and they are 0-12, but everyone is trying hard and has a positive outlook.
"I've got a good, solid group of kids with really good attitudes and everyone gets along well," Schmiedel said. "They listen, they hustle, stuff like that, but it hasn't translated to any wins yet. It's been frustrating at times, but like I said, everybody's got great attitudes and is having fun."
The team plays in the Far East Baseball Tournament at Camp Humphries, Korea, May 22 to 24, Schmiedel said.
Deandre McNeal, a senior who has played on the baseball team for three years and is a captain this year, said the team came out of the PAC East tournament April 20 for the better.
"We bonded together as a team. That's something we really, really needed," McNeal said. "In the bad situational moments, we didn't frown upon each other or get mad at each other; we kind of just picked each other up as a team."