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Real beach soccer, mountain running? It’s all in a day’s training for Hawaii teams

07/20/2017, 7:00pm CDT
By Mary Brickner, Media Intern

Schwan’s USA CUP has grass soccer fields everywhere. That may be the standard here in Minnesota, but across the ocean is the island of Hawaii, where three teams from unique environments made their USA CUP debuts this week.

The Riggers SC U14 boys from Oahu, Hawaii, do training exercises in the ocean and play games in the sand as part of their training regimen.

Riggers Soccer Club, a U14 boys team from Oahu, is surrounded by water, sand and mountains, all of which they use to their advantage when preparing to play.

“Living on an island has its advantages and disadvantages, but what we try to take advantage of is the weather, because unlike colder states like Minnesota, we can play all year outdoors,” Riggers head coach Doug Crabbe said.

The squad likes to get creative, and uses the ocean front as nature’s soccer field whenever they get the opportunity.

“We look at the tide charts and you can tell when it will be zero tide on certain areas of the beach and calculate,” Crabbe said. “You only have a window of time to play, so sometimes we’re playing and the tide is coming in so we’re playing in half sand and half water. Basically, the game is done when the tide comes in.”

Living by the ocean may seem like a calm and tranquil lifestyle, but Riggers uses it to their advantage, using the elements as a way to push themselves past their limit.

“We do water resistance running in the ocean,” Crabbe said. “It’s a little harder because the water is against your legs, so it definitely challenges them.”

“We also run along mountain trails for a different environment,” he added. “The reward is it’s pretty scenic where we train.” 

The U14 Kona Rage team is making their debut on the mainland at Schwan’s USA CUP.

Their unique training regimen is about more than preparing his players for competitive play.

“It’s not just soccer. It’s a lot of different core, balance, flexibility and training different muscles,” he said. “If anything, it helps prepare them mentally so that they push themselves into doing things that they haven’t been exposed to and challenging themselves in an environment that’s a little more rigorous.”

Southeast and a few islands away are their isle neighbors, located in Kona on the Big Island. Kona brought out two teams to USA CUP, and this is the first time that we’ve ever had any teams coming from their area of Hawaii.

They don’t play on the same terrain as their Oahu counterparts, but their lack of available space presents its own unique challenges.

“The beaches we use are small and not really fit for play, but we really only have one field that we can play and practice on,” U14 boys Kona Rage head coach Steve Loyola said. “It’s usually 80 or 90 degrees and blistering hot.”

The team is excited for a change in scenery, having spent most of their lives on the island.

“Some of the kids never really travel up to the mainland,” he said. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance for a lot of them.” 

The U14 Kona Lanakila team is making their annual trip to the mainland, excited for the multicultural experience.

The U14 girls’ team, on the other hand, have been traveling to the mainland for soccer tournaments annually over the past four years, although they are making their first appearance at USA CUP.

“We just want to get the girls from the Big Island traveling,” U14 Kona Lanakila girls head coach John Edwards said. “We want to get their vision in their head a little bit as to what is out there. It’s an eye opener for us.”

“We’re happy to be here and happy that we can participate,” he added. “There’s some international flair and it’s a great tournament for the girls to go to.”

Tag(s): July 20, 2017