Royal coach will face back-to-back seasons in spring

| September 18, 2020 1:00 AM

ROYAL CITY — Royal High School head soccer coach Jens Jensen will have back-to-back seasons to manage this spring, the girls soccer team schedule followed closely by the boys schedule.

In a normal year, high school girls play soccer in fall and the boys in the spring.

In an interview Monday, Coach Jensen talked about his communication with his players and how he holds out hope of avoiding another season falling through after seeing the boys’ season canceled last spring.

Right now, he said, options are limited for players to get out and practice with school facilities closed to students and the community.

“The only people who seem to be able to do stuff right now and not be having a lot of liability is the club system,” Jensen said. “Other than kids getting together on their own and doing stuff on their own, they’re really limited. Anything organized, at this point, is only going to be through the club system.”

The majority of his players are involved in athletics for the social activity aspect of it, he said. When the main motivation for the athletes participating is the time they get with their team, he added, it’s difficult to convince players to spend time working on drills on their own.

While a large portion of his players compete in community leagues during the offseason, he said only about 10 percent of his players are traveling to play with club teams. His focus when talking with players has been on just making sure they are ready when the green light to get started is given.

“To be honest, I’ve mostly just been encouraging the kids to figure out something that works for them, and if they’re interested in playing soccer at the college level, to be seeking out the club system as an option,” Jensen said. “Most of those kids would be doing that anyway, but if they’re looking to compete, there’s not a lot of other options right now.”

Most of his communication with players has been with seniors and team leaders, Jensen said. He said he has encouraged his upperclassmen to reach out and touch base with some of the younger players as well.

While he said they do discuss staying in shape and developing a fitness plan, there is always an element of just seeing how his athletes are doing in general.

With so much uncertainty still facing athletics this year, Jensen said he honestly hasn’t even thought ahead to the actual season too much yet.

“It’s going to be really early for the girls and really cold and windy,” Jensen said. “We’ve had situations where we’re out shoveling snow in the first week of March to where we can even get on the field. I don’t know what that’s going to look like.”

The boys’ season being pushed back, now ending in late June, will make things difficult for him as a cherry farmer, Jensen said. He explained that he will have already picked cherries by the point the season is set to end and said it will take some work to fit everything together.

“For me, it’s going to be very interesting and difficult to manage the things where I’ve set my life up around very predictable seasons so that I can coach and still get the things done I need to get done,” Jensen said. “And now that schedule is going to completely change, so for me, it’s going to take some juggling.”

Jensen said he, and most coaches, he assumes, remain committed to “moving mountains” to make a season happen this year. Last year, he said he had a large group of seniors with the boys team that had been playing together since they were young. Not having an opportunity for a final run with those athletes was difficult to deal with, he said.

“The fact that we missed out on having that experience together means the relationship that I could have with those boys for the rest of my life was damaged, which is unfortunate,” Jensen said. “I don’t want to see that happen again. We have to find a way to make something happen.”