South Lakes HS Soccer Team Embodies International Nature of the Sport
Last weekend, South Lakes High School’s Boys’ soccer team earned the Virginia State Championship. This is South Lakes’ first state championship in Boys’ Soccer, but it may not be its last due to the depth of the team which has three sophomores in the starting lineup. Though the team won back-to-back district championships, a regional championship and a state championship, what makes this story really unique are the students from around the world coming together as a family to achieve a goal. Not unlike its broader student body, the soccer team has drawn its strength from its diversity to beat the odds to make history.
Over half of the varsity squad is made up of first and second generation immigrants to the United States. Many are English language learners while others are ex-ELLs who are assimilating in the general student body. The broader soccer program (JV and varsity) which claims students who are first and second generation immigrants from Indonesia, Laos, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, China, Japan, El Salvador, Guatamala, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Morocco, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Taiwan, Ireland, South Africa, England, and Italy embodies the international nature of the sport itself.
Coach Marty Pfister built the South Lakes program over the past 12 years, with help more recently from assistant coaches Kyle Allen, Jesus Canales, and Aanand Vasudevan. The coaches have remained flexible with their players, some of who have had to miss practices to hold a job to help with family expenses. While youth soccer in Northern Virginia and the rest of America has been driven by a growth of commercial travel and academy programs, a lot of South Lakes players, who are economically disadvantaged, have gotten to where they are as a result of their passion for the sport and sheer hard work.
Assistant Coach Vasudevan credits the team’s success to the ability of the students to juggle jobs to contribute and school in addition to the soccer. This struggle, he states, has made the students stronger on and off the field.
Last Friday, the halls of South Lakes High School were resonating with sounds of cheer and support as the community gave the team a royal send off to their semi-final and final games. This victory will resonate in the hearts and minds of the students as they build on their experience as part of the South Lakes soccer family and move ahead in pursuit of their version of the American dream. One can but wonder if this is not what Robert Simon envisioned when he spoke of creating an equitable community where “the importance and dignity of each individual be the focal point for all planning, and take precedence for large-scale concepts.”