LACES Untied

LACES Untied

LACES Untied

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    Junior High Kicks Off New Sport

    The return of middle school soccer
    The+seventh+and+eighth+grade+boys+soccer+team.
    Mia Braufman
    The seventh and eighth grade boys soccer team.

    Welcome to the return of LACES middle school soccer. This is the first season back since the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a girls sixth-eighth grade team, a boys sixth grade team, and a boys seventh-eighth grade team. This is a big post-COVID change and allows for middle schoolers to become involved in LACES sports. 

    “We used to have one [middle school soccer team] pre-COVID, and then COVID stopped it,” said Vice Principal Rustum Jacob. “What we brought back was the Foundation for Interscholastic Youth Athletics (FIYA) that we had up until 2019. FIYA is the league that we are competing in now.”

    LACES middle school soccer competes against a variety of other schools, including New West Charter, Lennox Middle School and Wish Charter. Most of the schools they play are not directly within LAUSD. 

    “Not a lot of LAUSD schools participate,” said Jacob. “The bulk of the schools are private, charters, or other districts.”

    The middle school girls soccer team has the widest age range of students of all the teams. Coach Chris Armbruster has coached soccer for five to six years at various levels.

    “It’s a nice mix of girls who have some experience and girls that are new to soccer,” said Armbruster. “It’s fun to see them embrace the challenge of a competitive sport.”

    Not every player is at the same skill level, with some less experienced players learning from their senior teammates. 

    “Our team is good at helping the more experienced players with helping the less experienced players understand their roles and their responsibilities on the field,” said Armbruster. “A lot of the girls that have more experience, it’s a good chance for them to mentor or lead the other girls. It’s been a good mix of camaraderie, we have good team chemistry.”

    “Everyone in out-of-school soccer has been playing for a really long time, but here we have more beginners, so it’s just different skill levels,” said seventh grader Lucy Lapidus, agreeing with Armbruster about different skill levels on the team. 

    Lapidus also attested to the  excellent team chemistry. 

    “I’ve been playing soccer since I was four,” said Lapidus. “I actually like in-school soccer more because I can play with some of my actual friends.” 

    For the boys teams, Coach Sung is the sixth grade head coach and Coach Joseph Finkelstein (JP) is the head coach for both the seventh and eighth grade teams.

    Although it’s Coach JP’s first year coaching the middle school team, he coached in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) for several years. 

    “This is my first year coaching middle school soccer,” said JP. “It’s a challenge, but they’re a good group of guys and as long as they work hard it is good.”

    Similar to the girls team, players are on different skill levels. Sometimes this may be a challenge, but the coaches do their best to involve everyone and encourage players to help each other.

    “The kids who are not quite there, are developing faster because of the other players,” said JP.

    One of the few seventh graders on the team, Max Juang plays right wing and right back. He prefers playing with LACES as opposed to a recreational soccer league. 

    “There is less competition in the recreational league, and here there are more teams I can experience playing with, and a variety of players,” said Juang.

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    About the Contributor
    Mia Braufman
    Mia Braufman, Staff Writer
    I’m Mia Braufman and it’s my first year in Journalism. I love music, playing soccer, and hanging out with my friends. I’m really excited about learning more at Journalism this year.
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