For White Pine High School’s boys soccer coach Leif Tokerud, the team that he saw show up on game days was often almost unrecognizable from the one he would see in practice.
“They get in the game and they just get nervous and don’t play the right way,” Tokerud said of his team after they lost their final game of the season 8-1 to West Wendover at home on Oct. 30.
To the coach, the loss symbolized a problem that he saw with his team all season long, a lack of experience on defense leading to mental errors come game time.
“It’s not that we don’t practice defense, we do all the time. It’s just the mental mistakes that come from a lack of experience,” the coach continued.
Yet, despite the lopsided score, the Bobcats’ final game of the season also showed the coach and those in attendance something else. Something Tokerud said is easy to miss amid the team’s 0-7 league record at the end of the season.
“Despite the outcomes, if you watched us in practice and watched us in games, all of the players have progressed a lot. They really, really have. They haven’t let up, even though we’ve had a miserable season outcome wise, I’m proud of them for staying at it the entire season,” Tokerud said.
The coach pointed to Nate Lee, a senior who he said epitomized the team’s strong determination, even amid losing battles. Lee, who was one of three seniors celebrated after the game, said he often left everything he had on the field, win or lose.
“I feel like we worked hard,” Lee said after his final game. “We gave it our all most games. I’m really proud of the younger guys helping me to not give up because they are the motivation for the team to keep going.”
Tokerud is hoping to capitalize on that motivation through the team’s offseason by starting an indoor soccer program so the high school players could continue to refine their skills and get more comfortable on the field come next season.