Futsal expands; now coed grades 8-12


Matt Petres

Junior Haley Sturgill approaches the goal during a futsal match in Lower Kovler Gymnasium on Jan. 18. This year’s season now includes the girls soccer players and eighth grade players.

Krishita Dutta, Opinion Editor

High energy is all around as players kick the ball to their teammates and everyone cheers in Lower Kovler, Sunny Gym, and Upper Kovler — all three gyms filled with players on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This is what it’s like throughout the season for futsal, a soccer-based sport played indoors on a hard floor rather than on a field.

Futsal season allows soccer players to stay active in a similar sport indoors during the winter when it’s too cold to be out on Jackman Field. While U-High boys have played futsal for several seasons, this is the first year U-High has had a combined team of boys and girls. This year, futsal is exponentially larger than previous years, expanding from last year’s approximately 50 members to around 100 this year in grades 8-12. 

Futsal players and coaches this year are incredibly happy with the shift to being coed, and have found that it has allowed players from both girls and boys soccer teams to learn from one another.

The move to a combined futsal program came from futsal coaches Joshua Potter, who coaches both U-High soccer teams and teaches P.E., along with David Vadeboncoeur, another soccer coach. 

“People were kind of like, ‘What! Are you serious?’ when I pitched the idea, but I felt like both teams could learn from each other,” Mr. Potter said. “The game for the guys a lot of the time is a lot more physical, whereas for the girls, technical. And I thought putting them together could ensure they both learn from one another.”

Mr. Potter said he has seen this method work even more effectively than he expected. 

“The girls team is also very compassionate with one another, whereas with the boys team there’s more power dynamics,” he said. “But meshing the whole thing together has really helped. They hold a sense of respect for each other now, the girls and the boys, and they seem to be rubbing off on one another, too.”

According to Mr. Potter, around 100 students are split into 10 teams with two captains each, one girl and one boy. Girls team captain Jackie Slimmon, a senior,  believes the dynamic has been healthy.

“Everyone’s just there to play soccer. It’s great,” Jackie said. “It can get competitive, but I don’t think the girls feel undermined at all. There’s still more guys than girls, so we can feel out of place or outnumbered at first, but it’s not really bad at all.”

The inclusion of players from both soccer teams and five grades has led to some bumps on the road. Player Charlotte Henderson, senior, said while the spirit has been harmonic, she was nervous at first.

 “My initial perception was that the boys team was upset that games would be less competitive with the addition of girls soccer, but after a few weeks, I think everyone’s gotten to a point where we’re close and get along,” Charlotte said.

Senior player Eitan Malani said the environment has become more inclusive. 

“I think more than boys versus girls, it was a struggle with dynamics across the grades,” Eitan said, “but I think us seniors have learned to give more space and play to the younger grades who haven’t had a soccer season or a chance to play yet.”