Captains set the tone for soccer season

Connor Cresswell ’24 and Thomas Kaplan ’24 in a 1-0 win over Penn Charter last October – Dr. Mike Nance

The Fords soccer team is known for its winning tendencies, strong leadership, and, most of all, its camaraderie, all of which make it a unique and formidable team on and off the pitch. 

Most know that a team is only as strong as its leadership. The captains for the 2023-2024 year are Sixth Formers Thomas Kaplan, Connor Cresswell, Jackson Raleigh, and Sebastian Perez-Gasiba. 

As captains, the bar needs to be set high. Especially with a team made up of some incoming Third Formers and JV players who move up to varsity, it is important for bonds to be formed to perform at the highest level.

To do this, the team starts training and prepping for the season early. During the last few weeks, all members of the team have been hard at work training, doing tryouts, and even their first game on September 1st. 

“In the summer I’d try to make sure that I was running, usually in the mornings, and just getting out and playing a little soccer,” Kaplan said, “and I’d go in a group sometimes too.” 

“I stay physically and mentally prepared by just playing as much as possible at my position,” Cresswell said. “The only way to stay game-ready is to get consistent reps in, so I play club and train with other teams any chance I get.”

The bond the team shares to be able to train in coordination together in their own free time demonstrates just how they operate. 

Every year, incoming freshmen and JV members are introduced to the team. 

“What I found is that the freshmen this year are just great guys in general,” Kaplan said. “I think they’ve just folded into the team really nicely.” 

“I’m trying to foster a culture where everyone is held accountable by everyone and where upperclassmen can take freshmen and sophomores under their wings.”

Thomas Kaplan ’24

Older players also act as mentors for younger guys, both on and off the field. 

“I’m trying to foster a culture where everyone is held accountable by everyone and where upperclassmen can take freshmen and sophomores under their wings,” Kaplan said. 

Of course, every player on a team has personal goals on how to get better and be a better teammate in general. 

“Last year I finished team MVP along with Cresswell, so hopefully I can build off that season,” Kaplan said. “I was also watchlisted for high school All-American, so hopefully I can get that down as well.” 

Cresswell has similar goals.

“My personal goals are to repeat winning the Inter-Ac and just ultimately help my team win all the games we have on schedule,” Cresswell said. “I’m also striving to hopefully get the All-American honor which has always been a dream of mine.” 

Leaders are built by experiences, but also by lessons learned and imparted from previous leaders. 

Kaplan and Cresswell have gone through what many will experience in the struggle to become a captain and maintain that role, but most of all, build up the next set of talented players.

“Take on an important role on the team now,” Cresswell said. “Always do your part and be accountable for your actions.” 

The message of drive and confidence is echoed throughout the captains of the team. 

“Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re a freshman or sophomore or junior, if you’re stepping up and being a leader, just within your own class, I think you’re setting yourself up really well to be a captain or a leader senior year,” Kaplan said.