Lady Elkers soccer team begins voluntary workouts

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Ridgway Lady Elkers soccer head coach Greg Maddalena was happy to see several players at the first voluntary practice Monday at the FSG Elementary School field.

“It’s exciting to get out on the field with the kids after everything everybody has been going through. They seem so happy to be out and to be part of a team,” said the coach who will be entering his 19th year at the helm. “It’s just fun to finally come out in the fresh air and hopefully we can get this pandemic behind us,” he added.

Official practice for the regular season was postponed until Aug. 31 after the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) put a two-week hold on all fall sports on Aug. 7 after Governor Wolfe and the state department made a recommendation to hold off on sports until January 2020 Aug. 6 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hopefully we can keep going on but nobody knows. We can only go day by day and do the best we can,” said Maddalena who feels his young team is “eager to learn.”

The youthful Lady Elkers hope to build off the experience gained in 2019 when they finished on the winning end just twice. It wasn’t for the lack of effort it was more of a case of being outgunned by teams with strong cores of experienced players.

“I think once we get the rhythm we’ll be alright. I think we’re going to see the hard work they put in last year start to pay off,” Maddalena said. “A year can make a big difference. It’s going to be interesting to see how well we progress from this year to last year. It was tough but I think we can compete this year,” he added.

“So far we have 17 girls which is a pretty solid number,” the coach said noting girls can still sign up by contacting the school.

Maddalena is a huge proponent of the game. “I think it’s a great sport that helps players with all sports. It’s probably the number-one conditioning sport. I think it’s a win-win for anybody that wants to try it even if they’re playing something else. It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or small. It’s for all sizes,” he said pointing out four players that have signed to play are volleyball players at Johnsonburg and one for Ridgway.

Soccer is a co-op between the two schools that join forces for football, golf, tennis, cross-country, baseball, and softball. Ridgway and Johnsonburg each have their own volleyball and basketball teams.

“We’re small schools so we have to work together. It’s such an important part of our programs,” Maddalena said.

The PIAA is expected to make a statement on fall sports at a meeting scheduled for Friday. There have been talks between the PIAA and state. The season will start more than likely later than the originally Sept. 8 opener in Kane due to the delay. Maddalena hopes to see things go forward whenever the 2020 campaign begins.

“I hope we can play this year. I’m looking forward to it and I know the girls are. Like I said, we just have to take it a day at a time and do our best,” the Lady Elkers coach said.