Sporting Whiteman scouts for new talent year-round

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
One of Team Whiteman's priorities as an installation is to create an environment that is healthy and fun.  Varsity sports on base provide one of many avenues through which this goal is being accomplished.

Whiteman's varsity soccer team, also known as Sporting Whiteman, started up in June and is currently looking for new talent.

Deployments, permanent changes of duty stations and temporary duty assignments create a unique challenge for the team's coaches to develop a roster of players from three wings.

"When I first got to Whiteman back in 2010, we had a varsity soccer team where we would travel to Kansas City and play in a bunch of their Latino leagues," said Staff Sgt. Jeremie Key, Sporting Whiteman team member. "After a few years, a lot of people got deployed or went to a lot of other bases, so we didn't have the numbers we had before. Now we have a team that can travel to events like the Defender's Cup each year."

Tryouts are open to enlisted members, officers, dependents and civilians assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base.

"The base gym put out flyers for tryouts and I've been talking to intramural players to let them know that they could come out if they wanted to play at a higher level," said Tech. Sgt. Fred Koeller, Sporting Whiteman assistant coach. "We've also had first sergeants and other leadership who helped get the word out. Over time, as people saw us on base practicing, they joined to see what was going on."

Playing against more competitive teams has helped Sporting Whiteman increase strengths and pinpoint weaknesses. During the team's first soccer tournament, they competed against 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association soccer teams in the region, and finished in second place.

"We went to the Clinton Cup in Clinton, Missouri, and won our first game with a score of 2-1," Koeller said.

The team then moved up in the tournament bracket to the semifinals, where they won 2-0.

"In the championship game we lost by one goal," Koeller said. "The Clinton Cup was a good thing for our guys because it shows motivation in the fact that what you practice actually works and leads to something positive. What we do in our scrimmages will eventually lead to becoming a better team."

The team also competed in the Defender's Cup Sept. 1-3, where they finished in sixth place in a tournament bracket against 38 other military soccer teams.
During the Defender's Cup, various teams in the Air Force and its sister services competed in America's largest military soccer tournament at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Koeller said.

"I feel, as a coach, that our team's performance was spot on for everything that we have been working toward," Koeller said. "It was nice to be the underdog and beat a lot of teams that have been playing at the Defender's Cup for years. This is huge for us because now it just motivates us to go there and win it all next year."

Koeller was not sure how well the team would fare in a tournament of this caliber with a team that had only practiced together for a few months.

"Once we got to San Antonio, it was like all the training just clicked," Koeller said. "What really set us apart from other teams was our camaraderie, sportsmanship, work ethic and willingness never to quit."

Sporting Whiteman's ability to strategize for each game and think on their toes during tournaments has also been a major factor in their success.

"Teams would talk to others that have played us and try to make a strategy for how we played," Koeller said. "Then we would come out and do something totally different to throw them off guard, which made them change their game plan to our advantage."

Although Sporting Whiteman played against teams that had played together longer, they still showed how hard work and dedication can pay off, Koeller said.

"We weren't able to reach our goal of getting the Cup trophy but we were close and we know that we'll be there next year," Koeller said. "With a team like this, we will be sticking together and building off of this to make us better as a team and prepare for next year's Defender's Cup. Our goal next year is to bring the championship trophy home."

As the Sporting Whiteman prepares for next year's Defender's Cup, they are still looking for new talent. Their next game will be against Scott Air Force Base at Team Whiteman's Fitness Center next spring.

Anyone looking to tryout or join the team can call the assistant coach, Tech. Sgt. Fred Koeller, at DSN 975-2753.