by Hasani Grayson, The Daily World
On a typically cold, wet, early spring day in Aberdeen, the Grays Harbor Gulls adult soccer club was back on the practice field trying to prepare for its inaugural season.
Luckily for the 14 players able to attend practice that Wednesday, the weather cleared up just in time for workouts. But with the first preseason home game about two weeks away, the Gulls probably aren’t in a position to cancel practices for a little rain.
The Gulls will open Western Washington Premier League competition Sunday on the road against Snohomish County FC. The Gulls’ first home game is April 28.
Grays Harbor head coach Drew Grannemann, like his players that are new to the Western Washington Premier League, is doing a lot of on-the-fly learning himself and was pretty clear about what he is looking forward to most about starting the season.
“Just getting it over with, honestly,” he said. “There is still a little bit of uneasiness as we approach the match. I think I’m getting a clearer image of the type of soccer I want this team to play, but now it’s all about executing it on the pitch for 90 minutes against another competitive team.”
Part of the learning curve for players and coaches will be figuring out which combination of players will be best-suited for the backline.
Because a lot of players who would have done well as defenders are often moved to midfield or forward in high school, getting players to adjust to being a defender will be a hurdle for the Gulls to start the season.
With the backline a question mark heading into the season, and the Gulls boasting a lot of talent in the midfield, the game plan for now is to play a game heavily predicated on possession to tire out opposing defenders.
Brothers Vic and Cesar Corona plan to be key parts of Grays Harbor’s group of midfielders to help put the Gulls’ possession-heavy style into action.
Grannemann, who works at a brewery when he’s not coaching soccer, prefers craft beers but in this case he’s excited to have the two Coronas on his team.
Vic Corona was also excited to see that a team had been organized in town after the Aberdeen High graduate had played two years at South Puget Sound Community College.
“I’m pretty excited because it’s out of the blue,” he said. “I didn’t think I would play after SPSCC, but this worked out for me really good.”
With the start of the WWPL season conveniently starting after the end of the community college soccer season, younger brother Cesar is able to play almost year-round without any scheduling conflicts.
Both brothers were playing on another adult soccer team in the area but a lack of strong competition and a club team closer to home has brought both brothers back to the Harbor.
Cesar also pointed out that playing with a lot of the same players they grew up playing with should help the new squad overcome any chemistry issues they may face early on.
“Its a really small town. Everyone knows each other and it’s easy to communicate,” he said. “With the first game, it is going to be a little bit out of control, but I’m pretty sure it’ll get get better.”
The Corona brothers, like a lot of players on the team, find themselves at a bit of a crossroads in their soccer career.
With some of the best local soccer talent available on the roster, Grannemann hopes the scouts will be watching.
“There should be some local college coaches watching these games to scout players from small towns,” he said. “I know there are a lot of guys who want to keep playing after two years at South Puget Sound or wherever, so hopefully we can use this as a platform for them to get a little more exposure.”
The exposure will come when scouts come looking for college talent, but Grannemann sees the Gulls as more than just a showcase for any college scouts who may be interested. He hopes for community support as well.
“One of our biggest hurdles to overcome is that we’re not just some city rec league team. We’re part of this new wave of small community soccer that’s showing up all over the the United States,” he said. “The leagues want a local product that the townspeople can support. We want to pass that message along to the people who may not be soccer fans but love Grays Harbor. We’re out here to support Grays Harbor by playing the sport we love.”