Following the successful implementation of a middle school program one year prior, Garland ISD launched freshman soccer in 2015-16. The initiative is driven by the positive benefits students and campuses experience through an athletic program.
“The introduction of ninth-grade soccer has created more opportunities for students to compete and develop skills," said Director of Athletics Cliff Odenwald. “The program has also afforded GISD parents an economical option for their student to develop athletic and academic achievement via competition.”
With 14 boys and girls freshman teams, the possibility of growing a strong, upper-level team is on the horizon.
“None of our varsity-level student athletes had the opportunity to play freshman soccer in GISD,” Odenwald explained. “The more opportunities students have to participate in the sport, the more future teams will see success.”
Interested students also strive for success. Potential players must hold a passing grade in their classes in order to try out and participate. Opening doors to students and fostering a rigorous environment is why the district backs this venture.
“Some of the students who play freshman soccer would not have made the JV or varsity teams prior to the program’s introduction--which means they would not have been able to play high school soccer,” he said. “Creating an additional opportunity that promotes student success is important and commendable.”