Vanderbilt Soccer takes the field this Sunday (3/17) in the first of five games played during the Spring. The Spring is an exhibition season that does not affect conference or NCAA rankings. It is a time to focus on goals for the year, ramp up to playing shape, and figure out strengths and weaknesses.
I talked with Head Coach Darren Ambrose about the Spring and his goals for the team. I also talked to him about his SEC Championship ring and if he flaunts it around campus.
Shawn Allen: How does the approach to the Spring Season differ than the one for the Fall?
Darren Ambrose: The spring we spend less time on preparing for our opponents and more time on bigger team concepts. We also spend more time in the weight room and also on some small individual technical improvements. The biggest focus is that we are really looking at how some of the players who didn’t have as big a playing role in the fall have developed. While I want to win, winning isnt the most important thing in the spring. I want to watch some of our younger players and how they perform in a role on the field and see how they may start to fit into next fall. If we lose but we learn something about our players then it was a good loss.
SA: What’s your favorite type of cross-training (or other sport training) for your team to do during the Spring?
DA: They spend a lot of time in the weightroom to be honest. We have a TOCA machine that hreally helps girls with individual technical skills. Its kinda like being in a batting cage with soccer balls being spit out at you in rapid fashion and you having to control or redirect them. Next year we will probably introduce Yoga or some other non weight bearing exercise like Spin.
SA: Does playing Alabama feel like a conference game even tho it functions as an exhibition?
DA: It will be more laid back on the face of it but I know when the game starts both teams will be playing to win and it will be competitive. We just want to learn something about ourselves.
SA: For the future, will you try an schedule a Spring tournament in warmer weather, say, Mexico, like the golf team?
DA: We cant miss any class time in the spring so it limits how far we can go We are also limited to one international trip every four years in our off season.
SA: I saw where the team received their rings from their SEC championship. In your estimation, what importance does a ring have for the players and for the program? How often do you wear yours, and when you wear it do you also have to wear sunglasses from all that bling?
DA: Ha!!! Mine will sit in a display case with several others from Penn. I think it’s a cool memento that in 10-20 years we will all look at have some incredible memories of this past season. They are more important than the actual ring in my opinion. You can lose a ring or it might get worn or broken but you cant do that to the memories and feelings we have about last season.
For me though now, its also represents the end of that celebration and the beginning of the next cycle. We have memories and something to remember last year by. But now its time to focus on next year.
The ‘Dores take the pitch this Sunday at Memphis.