Men's Soccer Takes Team Excursion to Ojai
Aug 20, 2013
SAN DIEGO - It takes a little more than regular, traditional practice to prepare for a long season ahead.
The San Diego State men's soccer has already gone above and beyond in its preseason training, taking a team retreat to Ojai, Calif., from Aug. 15-19. It's become an annual venture the past three seasons for the program under head coach Lev Kirshner, and players believe it still has the same positive affect.
"It's amazing out there, you can't ask for a better training environment," senior goalkeeper and captain Blake Hylen said. "You're with your team, there are zero distractions and everything is all about soccer. We wake up, we train. We eat together, we chill together. Everything is great. You can't ask for anything better."
The Ojai retreat began in 2011 when field issues forced the team to move its practice elsewhere. But today, that tough time is viewed as a blessing in disguise, and is now part of the program's tradition.
Hylen believes having everyone together to focus toward their common goal is the main advantage of making the trip.
"You're right at the beginning (of the season)," he said. "You have transfers, you have freshmen. It gives you a chance to bond as a team, as well as be in an environment where all we think about is our goal - which is a national title. It definitely puts you in the right mindset, which is the biggest thing."
Hylen completed his third getaway to the secluded area of Ventura country. As much as the senior enjoyed it for perhaps his final time, it was even more of an eye-opening experience for freshman goalkeeper Adam Allmaras.
Although he acknowledged the upperclassmen playfully gave him a hard time during some moments, Allmaras said it was one of the best times of his soccer career.
"I thought it was great, there's no better environment to train with all your buddies," Allmaras said. "Literally, every single night I was looking at the sunset like, `Oh my God, this is amazing.' You get to know each person a lot better individually. It was definitely the best soccer experience I've ever had, and I'd like to do it again next year."
Both Hylen and Allmaras said the highlight of the trip was the ropes course, which they described as a team and trust-building activity. There was one exercise where they had to get several players on one box and balance themselves together, while another called "trust falling," consisted of having to swing on a rope and catch each other.
The two described them as very beneficial activities that can't be duplicated in any practice.
"You work as a team and use that communication that you don't really think about, but it transfers over from what we do out (in Ojai), over to the field," Allmaras said. "The communication, the trust that people are going to do what they're supposed to be doing. The loyalty and all that stuff.
"I thought it was really good. One of the best experiences I've ever had."