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RHS soccer coach inspires despite COVID-19

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Roswell girls soccer coach Samantha Lawrence Ward, center, stands with the six seniors during senior day last season. (Submitted Photo)

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world has been forced to adjust. Facemasks and social-distancing are being accepted as the new normal while large social gatherings have been canceled or postponed.

With these new guidelines in place, sports at all levels have been hit extremely hard but Roswell High School girls’ soccer coach Samantha Lawrence-Ward is not letting that affect how her team prepares for next season.

During a normal year, the high school soccer season comes to a close in November. Lawrence-Ward will typically give her team a week of rest before diving right back into their grueling off-season conditioning program. In her mind, there is no off-season and she pushes her team to approach their off-season workouts with the same intensity they would during the regular season.

The Roswell High girls’ soccer team was able to practice together for two weeks before March came around and nationwide quarantines were put into place. Despite feeling devastated, the team fought through it and continued to show they will never give in, no matter what challenges they face.

With the girls not being able to train and practice together, Lawrence-Ward had to improvise and alter her workout program. The team has now been split up into six groups with each group captained by a senior player. Each week, Lawrence-Ward sends out a workout routine that she expects her players to complete. The girls report their fitness times to their group leader and every Friday, those times get reported back to Lawrence-Ward.

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She is in constant contact with her players and continues to motivate them to get faster and stronger. The team has ultimately bought into the program and they know that, in the long run, these workouts are designed to improve their game. The girls also know that if they skip their workouts, they will be left at a disadvantage and will face an uphill battle when trying to earn their spot on the team.

“With COVID-19. the main adjustment the Roswell High girls’ soccer team made was restructuring its workouts,” said Lawrence-Ward. “We are a team that usually does everything together and we are very team-oriented. Also being able to keep that team structure while being separated from each other is another adjustment we made that has kept the team going.”

Lawrence-Ward is a tough, hard-nosed coach who does not accept excuses. She’s tough because she genuinely cares about her team and she knows what it takes to compete at the next level. Lawrence-Ward was a four-year player at Eastern New Mexico University and was a 2017 inductee into the ENMU Hall of Honors.

Her leadership style is built around instilling confidence into her players and she takes pride that those players leave her program with an outstanding work ethic, which will continue to help those girls throughout their lives.

The team’s outlook for the future is bright even during unprecedented dark times. Lawrence-Ward expects nothing but the best from her team and her radiating confidence has trickled down to the rest of her girls.

“I would like to thank my two assistant coaches for their support,” said Lawrence-Ward. “My Assistant Coach Urbano Sosa has been with me for eight years. He was actually my basketball coach in high school, and I consider him family.

“Our junior varsity coach Ayjayra Castillo played four years for me. We brought her on last year and she has been the biggest asset that we have brought to the program in the past couple of years. I’m also grateful for the support of our parents. Our booster club and our parents are outstanding. The love and support from them really keep the program running smoothly.”

Eventually, sports will return and when that time comes, Lawrence-Ward and the rest of the Roswell High girls’ soccer team will be ready.