It seems like varsity athletes are getting younger and younger. We all know in lacrosse it’s common to see a seventh or eighth grade make the varsity team. But, in other sports, you don’t see it as much. Maybe it’s because some of the other sports are a little bit more physical that lacrosse.
That trend however is starting to change. Lately more and more middle school students are making the jump to the varsity team - and they aren’t just riding the pine. The ones that are making the jump are having a big impact with the big club.
Case in point when it comes to eight grade keeper Shea Vanderbosch. As an eight grader, Vanderbosch is having a big impact on a very good Lancaster Legends soccer team. She has started every game for the Legends, and even helped them to a win over powerhouse Clarence 1-0 earlier in the year.
Making the varsity was always a dream for Vanderbosch, and she had that dream come true.
“I just left for vacation when I got the call from coach Cownie. I was extremely pumped. I knew I had a good camp so it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. The sad part was Lancaster only allowed one eighth grader to play varsity so my twin sister and I would be separated for the first time and she ended on JV. I'm happy she has since been asked by coach to come up for sectionals,” stated Vanderbosch. “t definitely brings out my best. I know my teammates are looking at me to step up and perform. My teammates and coaches never make me feel like an eighth grader.”
And she hasn’t played like one, either. Vanderbosch has been calm, cool and collected since she made her varsity debut this season. She plays older and wiser than her age, and that has helped her compete with some of the bigger, more older, players during the varsity season.
She knew, however, to be able to crack the varsity lineup she had to have a solid summer. Building on what she has done with Global Premier Soccer was the only way she was going to be abel to compete. By being able to play for GPS, Vanderbosch has already played against some of the best competition in Western New York and the country.
Going up against that type of competition made it easy for her when it came to camp time with the Legends.
“What has helped me by playing for GPS is the coaching, all the coaches work together especially for training sessions,” she said. “It’s great sometimes to get a different point of view and see a different view of the game. They always ask me to move up anytime a keeper is needed on the older teams. That helps to keep me sharp for higher level of play.”
It also helps that she isn’t afraid of coming out and challenging some of the best players in Western Nee York. If you just take a look at one of her photos from this season, you will see a Williamsville North player running her over as Vanderbosch came out for the ball.
To be a keeper you can’t be shy. Some of the best keepers in wold want to make sure everyone knows that it’s their box. People say Gigi Buffon is the best keeper in the world. He is the best because he owns his area.
Players know when the ball comes into the box that he’s going to go up and get it. Vanderbosch is the same way. Anything in her area is hers, and her teammates appreciate her efforts.
“Being fearless is a big part of being a keeper as well as positioning. Being in the right position sometimes makes it look like the striker shoots it right into you but your setup sometimes gives them no choice,” she explained. “Also you can see the whole field being the last line of defense and arranging your backs on the opposing set pieces and making sure you’re loud enough to hear. Most importantly is protecting yourself, at ODP keeper training a big part of your training is how to protect yourself.”
A keeper also needs to be vocal. You can’t be quiet in that position. A quiet keeper is a dead keeper. If a keeper is quite, you can’t expect the defense to know if an opposing player in on top of them our not. Some of the best keepers in the world are loud, you can hear them barking out orders throughout the entire match.
Making it more difficult for someone like Vanderbosch is the fact that she is so young. Being in eight grade and playing on varsity means that the older girls have to listen to you when you bark our directions of play. They have to have the confidence in you, and know that you making the right calls on the pitch.
“You can’t be shy, keepers need to be vocal because they see the whole field especially plays starting to develop. I’ve always been vocal, early on sometimes players would feel that I’m yelling at them but it’s just part of the game,” she stated. “Being younger was never been an issue on varsity, my teammates are awesome and have never made me feel out of place.”
As the season comes to and, Vanderbosch will relish the opportunities that were given to her this year. She will be able to take away the fact that she was able to play, and learn, from a lot of talent that sits on the Lancaster roster.
She was able to play with seniors that taught her more than just game - but about life. That is valuable experience for someone who has high dreams and expectations as her soccer career moves forward.
“It has taught me that I have to be on the top of my game and can never stop learning the game as I go,” stated Vanderbosch. “I value my coaches and teammates and their feedback.”