by Justin Brent | Faculty Advisor
This coming Family Weekend, many activities will compete for the attention of the PC community. Certainly one of those is a women’s soccer match between PC and Campbell University–Saturday, 1 p.m. at Martin’s Stadium.
After a conversation with Head Coach Brian Purcell, I became convinced that this is a really important game to see. Our conversation was wide-ranging, but it left me with a deep impression about the significance of the women’s game in American culture.
Regarding Campbell, Purcell noted that they were one of the “preseason favorites” to win the conference and thus should provide an “interesting measuring stick” for the rest of conference play.
He notes that the season is really divided into two halves, the first half being non-conference games and the last being exclusively conference matches. The first half is like a pre-season, since these games don’t mean anything in final conference standings. Saturday, therefore, will feel in many ways like opening day.
That opening day feeling could work in PC’s favor. In August, Women’s Soccer started off on a tear, defeating Furman and Wofford in their opening two matches. Just for some scope, PC Women’s Soccer has NEVER done this before. When I asked Coach Purcell what is different about this team, he pointed to two things: His freshmen who have brought in a lot of “energy and excitement” and his upperclassmen who invested “tremendous work in the off-season.”
Unfortunately, the team has struggled since this early success. Purcell pointed to challenges that frustrate freshmen more than experienced players: “Classes started! Freshmen struggle more with balancing busy schedules and adjusting to travel. We need to manage that group a little better.”
“But,” he points out “if you had to choose a point to slump, you couldn’t have picked a better time for it than just prior to conference games.” The week-long break gives them time to assess what went wrong, make adjustments and implement those changes with fresh legs.
Saturday therefore, you are likely to see the team that beat Wofford and Furman, yet with more awareness of pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Purcell and I talked at length about the women’s game and evidence of its growing allure. He notes the number of male students who show up at their games, not merely to show up, but with genuine interest in the strategy and outcome. At one point, I asked him what he looks forward to in women’s soccer:
“An awful lot of the boys playing are second-generation players: Their fathers played, and so they learned the game in part through a father-son dynamic. On the women’s side, you’re starting to see that, but it’s just starting. In a fairly short period of time, you’re gonna see the results of this mother-daughter or father-daughter dynamic, and when that happens Women’s Soccer is gonna jump.”
With these words, coach Purcell reminds us of the joy and value of parenting: spending time with your child, teaching skills that matter, embodying the values you care about. This Saturday, come enjoy the results of some fantastic parenting, and maybe enjoy some precious family time.