It’s hard to tell who is having more fun during a Thursday morning practice session at Van Horn High School – first-year head coach Zach Wilson or his girls soccer team.
"The toughest thing for the girls all week has been practicing social distancing," Wilson said, grinning. "They haven’t seen each other in about three months and they want to give each other a hug and talk about all the things that have been going on in their lives."
Instead, they kept a safe space from each other after getting their temperatures checked at the only entrance to the school’s football/soccer field north of the new fieldhouse gym.
"This is so exciting for me, as a coach and a teacher because the only reason you go into this business is to be around kids – and Zooming and teaching via Google isn’t the same as seeing your students on a daily basis," said Wilson, who was the girls assistant coach before taking the last two years away from the program. He has worked with the boys the past four years.
"We really owe a lot to the Independence School District, because I think we are the only school district where kids are actually practicing to play games."
Van Horn will play against Independence rivals Truman and Chrisman, facing Truman at home at 5 p.m. June 29 then traveling to Chrisman for a 5 p.m. contest July 3.
"That’s all the girls want to talk about," Wilson added, "getting to play one more time. I’m thrilled we get to play one more time for all the girls, but especially for our three seniors – Vi Perez, Bre Pace and Adi Smith.
"I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do to honor them at our home game, but we’re going to do something because they have meant so much to this team."
Wilson said the COVID-19 pandemic has made his first head coaching job interesting.
"We had so many plans for the season, and the season pretty much got canceled, that’s why these games against Chrisman and Truman are so important to all of us," he said.
"It gives us all something to look forward to, because who knows what’s going to happen the rest of the summer. They’ve moved the start of summer school from July 1 to July 6, and I don’t think anyone knows what the fall (school year) is going to look like.
"But we know we’re out here practicing, we have two games to look forward to and we can’t wait!"