Sports

Enjoyment of soccer leads to year-round play

Chase Muller holds the first-place award won by his soccer team at the Summer Slam last weekend. - Photo courtesy of Charity Graves
Chase Muller holds the first-place award won by his soccer team at the Summer Slam last weekend.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Charity Graves

It’s not a sacrifice when you are doing something you love.

That’s how Oak Harbor High School soccer players Alex Krantz, Chase Muller, Caley Powers, Dakota Powers and Gavin Stewart justify their year-long commitment to the sport.

The five are among a group of Wildcat players who play soccer off-island when not competing for Oak Harbor High School, and the word “love” was used to describe the sport they play and the reason they devote much of their time to one endeavor.

Caley Powers said, “I’ve always loved soccer since I was little. I barely notice how much time I put into it. I love soccer, so the time is no issue to me.”

And they do put time – a great deal of time – into it.

The Powers brothers and Stewart play for Bellingham’s Whatcom Football Club Rangers, one step down from the academy level, which is the highest before college and professional soccer. Caley Powers and Stewart, who are OHHS seniors, compete for the U18 team; Dakota Powers, a junior, plays U17.

Krantz, a senior, is part of the Northwest Nationals Soccer Club out of Mountlake Terrace; and Muller, a senior, plays for Burlington’s Northwest United Soccer Club. Both are premier-level teams.

They all commute to their soccer “home” at least twice a week for practice and play games on the weekends. Away games take them all over the state, including Vancouver, Spokane and the Tri-cities, and tournaments to other parts of the country. The Rangers, for example, recently returned from a tournament in Denver.

Stewart said he also works out on his own and with Jeff Mills, who has provided “helpful insight to the collegiate level of soccer that not many people in this town can offer.”

Though the five are committed to soccer, they understand the importance of school and each is an honor student.

River Powers, Caley and Dakota’s mother, said, “Carving out five hours on a weekday ... and an entire weekend for games can wreak havoc of their studies.”

The players, however, have adapted.

Dakota Powers, for example, sports a 3.99 GPA and Caley a 3.97. Krantz, who has completed seven AP classes, sits at 3.7, Muller at 3.5 and Stewart at 3.2.

Stewart said, “Obviously, academics comes first. Between my club soccer and school, I stay pretty busy.”

Krantz said, “I have to be proactive to get my homework done ... and keeping a very simple schedule helps.”

Muller added, “I usually don’t balance it out (homework and soccer), it balances itself out by taking in account that we all have school and don’t live near by.”

The Powers brothers pointed out the need for good time management, and Caley added, “I assess each night how much homework I have and plan accordingly.”

He said, “That often means doing homework to-and-from games, staying up after practice, doing it before practice, and also giving up free time, unfortunately.”

Though their free time is gobbled up by school and soccer, they don’t think they are missing out on a social life.

Caley Powers said, “A lot of my friends just sit around and do nothing, and sometimes I wish I could as well. But, again, with time management, I find time to do things like that.”

Krantz said he still finds time for activities such as school dances, football games and clubs.

“But soccer comes first,” Krantz said. “It is a decision that I had to make, but it is one that I enjoy.”

Stewart said, “I still have a very active social life, some of my best friends are on my Ranger team ... and other good friends play on the high school team.”

Dakota Powers said, “I don’t believe I missed out on much because I do many things with the other athletes on my team.”

And while soccer is paramount in their lives, they also have competed in other sports such as swimming, cross country and lacrosse. Some also coach youth soccer, are active in their churches and are part of the OHHS choir.

And it is all worth it.

Muller summed it up: “I love soccer. It’s something I can’t explain – how I feel when I play soccer. It’s limitless.”

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