Current players

Published on August 25th, 2020 | by Staples Soccer


George Smith Wins 1st-Ever Team Day Competition

A dozen returnees looked forward to this year’s annual team bonding trip.

A killer house on a Maine lake had been rented. But a different killer — COVID-19 — shattered those plans. The 4-day event was canceled.

Up stepped captains’ parents Drew and Joanna Douglas, and Padma Priyamani. They created a day-long competition that demanded physical skills, wits, creativity, and — most importantly — collaboration.

The 12 players were divided into 3 teams of 4 each. But there were 4 different competitive events, and teams changed for each one. So while players earned team points during an event, they carried those individual points with them throughout the day. (Of course, all players wore masks. And there was plenty of hand sanitizer too!)

The day began at 9 a.m., with a 90-minute athletic skills competition. It moved on to a scavenger hunt. Items ranged from a souvenir from the police station and “prestidigitation” to proof of a visit to “Jem Sollinger ’88’s Westport office” (Camp Laurel, in Brooks Corner — but the players did not know that), and a message to the Staples soccer team from Kyle Martino ’99. (During the judging — proving the adage that “Staples soccer is everywhere” — Jim Leonard ’78 wandered by. The former player and recently retired Santa Fe Prep head of school was in Westport, visiting relatives.)

During lunch, the players were given their next challenge: a burger contest, to be held during dinner. They were provided with meat and buns — but they had to create something special. They had $20 to spend, and 15 minutes for one player from each team to find what they needed at Fresh Market.

Before the actual grilling, everyone headed to the Westport Paddle Club. There were 3 events there, with kayaks and paddle boards: a straight race, individual balance battles on the boards, and a relay race.

After swimming in the Saugatuck River, it was back to the burger contest. One team used eggs. Another marinated their burger in root beer. A third combined flavors from its member’s native countries, which included India and Brazil. Judges Dan Woog, Kurt Dasbach and day-long scorekeeper/friend Andres Marmelo ’16 judged the international burger to be the clear winner.

Near 9 p.m., the totals from the day were tallied. Rising senior George Smith was the winner, followed closely by silver medalist Haran Eiger and bronze winner Aidan Mermagen. All got their choice of Staples soccer swag.

It was a long, fun, inventive, collaborative and competitive day. It helped get the team in the right mindset for the upcoming season.

PS: The burgers were quite good too.

Getting ready for paddle board races during returnees’ team bonding day.


The burger contest. Note the presentation by Team 1.

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