Published on August 4th, 2014 | by Staples Soccer0
Wreckers Rock Vermont
Ten of the Staples soccer team’s varsity players returned last night from 4 adventurous days in Vermont. The annual “bonding trip” — not an official school event — included a high-level ropes course, a 4-mile mountain trail run, paintball, kayaking, and a variety of other experiences.
“The idea was to get the returning players together, spending quality time without a lot of distractions like cell phones,” said head coach Dan Woog.
“We took them outside their physical and mental comfort zones. We asked them to make all the decisions, figure things out, and support each other along the way. They were fantastic. It’s a very tight group. They did some really intense things, and shared some great experiences.”
The University of Vermont ropes course — the very 1st morning — was one of those key events. Facilitator Megan Meinan spent nearly 5 hours helping the players build trust, work together and overcome personal and team obstacles.
In one exercise, each senior led a blindfolded underclassman over rough terrain and up a steep hill — without any physical contact. Then the blindfolds were switched. The younger players had to get the older ones to cover more territory, pick up a bat and ball, and hit it — this time without physical contact or spoken words.
There were 2 high ropes challenges. One involved crossing a narrow log 35 feet in the air. In the other, players dove horizontally — this time 40 feet high — to try to strike a ball several yards away. All belaying support was done by teammates.
Megan called the Staples players one of the most focused, thoughtful, fun and respectful high school groups she has ever worked with.
A 2nd challenge was a 4-mile trail run, led by Brian Burns ’94. Brian — who lives in Vermont — found the perfect course for the Wreckers. He and his wife Dillon set out at a brisk pace, leading the players up and down hills and over bridges. As with the ropes course, several players had a bit of trepidation at the start, but gave it everything they had and loved the experience. Gabe Pensak was the 1st finisher, followed closely by Patrick Beusse.
Brian also spent a great deal of time talking with the squad about Staples soccer, the keys to winning a state championship, and what it was like being a teammate with Chris O’Dell.
Brian stayed with the group the rest of the day, playing several intense paintball games, and enjoying Andrew Puchala’s birthday dinner in downtown Burlington.
Other trip activities included kayaking, a zip line, bowling, mini-golf, and very competitive card games. The group stayed in a 13-bed home on 23 acres in Waterbury.
Liam Bohonnon ’08 once again accompanied the team, adding his unique personality and Staples soccer legacy to the trip.
“I can’t say enough about this weekend,” head coach Dan Woog said. “The guys were all in. It was one big group, everyone helping each other and enjoying being together. We spend some time talking about the upcoming season, getting mentally as well as physically prepared. I think everyone is incredibly ready to get started.”
Ziggy Hallgarten and Graham Gudis, on the high ropes course (video below):