Thursday, February 28, 2008

BYU 2008 Tryouts

My son and I hit the Indoor Practice Facility over at BYU at 6AM this morning to watch the first session of tryouts. It was really exciting to see 70-odd players there, everyone from returning players to high school students looking for a spot on the team.

After a quick briefing by Coach Watkins, the players were split into a number of teams to play a series of scrimmages. Two short field games at a time, plus players in other parts of the building made for a lot of soccer watching opportunities, but not a lot of insight from me. (I’m glad there were multiple coaches there to keep an eye on things and that there will be four more sessions to get everything sorted out.)

One of the players who jumped out at me immediately was #2, Bryan Black (he’s the guy in red in the picture above). Bryan’s a lanky keeper, who’s just come back from two year mission in Minnesota, “not a big soccer hotspot” he said. Bryan’s reach proved formidable to opposing strikers, as he did very well at stopping nearly everything kicked toward his goal.

Another keeper that stood out was KC, a High School Senior. KC was vocal and effective in organizing his defense, this was complemented by some very athletic play including a great diving, twisting save.

Even solid displays of talent in goal by the newcomers won’t necessarily lead to a spot on the team though. Returning standout keeper Brandon Gilliam talked about this being a tough year since there were three returning keepers. The upside to this is that BYU should be able to field an excellent stable of keepers this year.

There were good players at every position at the tryout this morning. Coach Chad Sackett said that with the talent here, the team was probably going to “need to cut three or four players from last year, returning players.” While we were talking about the quality of the trialists, I asked Brian Black if he saw anyone that impressed him, he replied:

There are a lot of good players here, so it’s not really that someone stands out as being good. You can see some little things though. The returning players are a little different too. You could field a couple of good teams with the players here this morning.

Given my schedule, I won’t be able to catch any more sessions until the final one on Saturday evening. I’ll do what I can to keep up on things in the meantime.

Other notes:

  • I saw a small crew from True Blue there to catch the tryouts and talk to some of the players, coaches, and hopefuls. I think this is a good sign for BYU soccer coverage.
  • I also talked to the guys working on a new website for BYU Soccer—it sounds like they’ve got some good stuff in store for fans this year. I’m hoping to start seeing some highlights up on YouTube.
  • The funnest competition to watch was between some of the keepers on the sidelines. There were a couple of balls caught in the rolled up side netting of the facility, and the keepers were throwing balls at them to knock them free.

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