Most teams do their preseason on the turf field or take the “long” walk up to Galbraith. This coming fall, the boys soccer program, however, will be taking a much longer trip.
In August, the program will head off to Alicante, Spain, for their preseason. They will be competing against two to three youth teams and potentially more, and will experience some of the best competition possible to help prepare them.
Head varsity soccer coach John Chiavaroli is looking forward to the trip, which he thinks will undoubtedly help the players get stronger both on the field and off.
“I believe this trip is going to be beneficial in many areas,” he said. “The more time we spend together will be used towards forming bonds with one another and getting to know everyone out of the classroom and off the field.”
Alicante is a port city on the southeastern coast of Spain; in addition to fantastic weather it’s known for its beaches, old town, and large plazas. That should all help the team in its bonding process.
“The opportunity to forge good friendships prior to the season is another important aspect of having a healthy tight team,” he said. “As for the physical standpoint, opening up the season with very intense competition will benefit us because we will be scrimmaging some of the best teams. My hope is that the program will be in great shape coming back to Williston and to be ready to attack and defend.”
Team bonding, Chiavaroli said, will be a main focus of this experience, along with spreading the Wildcat name to a foreign country.
“The extra time we spend together also allows us to work on tactics and the other team dynamics that make will make this program successful,” he said. “It’s very important to travel every other year so that the name of Williston can be heard of in areas that we travel to.” Studying abroad, Chiavaroli said, is becoming increasingly popular for Spanish students.
Being a student athlete is important Chiavaroli said, and he is confident this trip will give his squad a chance to prove just how impressive Williston boys soccer is.
“It’s super different in Spain because academics and athletics are very separated,” he said. “More and more families from Spain want their kids to have the American college or prep school experience. Therefore, bringing the name of Williston and showing families what kinds of kids go to our school will draw in more kids.”
Sebastian Santelices ’20 is very excited to kick things off in Alicante, in a country that is very passionate about soccer.
“On top of going to Spain, we are getting a ton of new recruits from all over the world and with that, we will become closer as a team,” he said. “The whole program is very dedicated and committed, which has lead to everyone being ecstatic about this experience.”
Vicente Abbud ’19, who had a great season with the boys varsity soccer team, recently committed to St. Louis University to continue both his academic and athletic career. And though he is graduating this spring, he said, “It’s such a drag that I did not get this opportunity to go with the team to Spain. I think the boys program will enjoy this preseason and it will be so helpful for them during the season.”
This article first appeared in The Willistonian.