SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Benedictine Military School is an all-boys school, but depending on the day, you can find a soccer field full of young women. The Savannah Spirit Soccer Club practices there, and they’re working to make 2021 the most successful year yet for the young club.
They’re already training and kicking off 2021 as they continue to try to grow the program with new players.
The team is just a couple of years old, they have an older group that plays in the Women’s Professional Soccer League, or WPSL - the second-tier women’s league for soccer in the United States, and a younger group they call the “futures.” Their players range in age from 12 to 30, and there’s around 70 of them currently.
It all started with their two owners who wanted more for their young daughters on the soccer front.
“There was this opportunity with the WPSL, a great league, I think at that point they were probably at 110 teams, they’re at like 140 right now,” said Head Coach Chris Davidovicz. “It’s incredible.”
During the summer collegiate players join them for their season that spans from May to July, along with the high schoolers and local players here in the area. One of the notable collegiate players includes Vanderbilt’s Abi Brighton, a midfielder from Hilton Head. The Commodores were the 2020 SEC Champions for her freshman season.
Another aspect of the team is the ability for the older players, some playing in the Division I ranks, to not only challenge the younger players, but help mentor them.
“Difficult environment, and it takes a lot of courage to do that if you’re 12, 13, playing with an 18, or 19, or 20-year-old,” Davidovicz added. “It takes a lot of courage, but they go through that process, they start to do it, they go through a couple of sessions, then they’re like, ’hey, I know I can do that,’ and that’s how confidence is built.”
Confidence is just one thing they’re trying to build in the team, but also character, courage, community, and connection.
“Can we take these younger players, give them something to aspire to? Can we take the older players, and maybe give them a platform where they can be with us for a couple of months, and then maybe go get a professional contract somewhere? Because this is what they’ve done for years. Some of these kids have played since they were four and five years old.”
The high school players say it not only helps their skill going against older players, but having the opportunity to play with high school teammates in the off-season builds more chemistry too.
Hilton Head Prep sophomore Bryn Miller tells me she’s seen the club grow leaps and bounds since she first came out.
“At the beginning, we only had ten, like 12 people,” Miller said. “Now, like, there’s like two groups playing out over here, so I think that’s good that we got the word out.”
They say the hope for the team is that they can help the younger players make it past the high school level if they aspire to, and help elevate the older players to a professional contract, while empowering women and girls at the same time.
They’re expecting to get their 2021 schedule at the end of February or beginning of March, while continuing to train in the meantime. For more information on the team, you can follow them on Twitter at @SAVSpiritSC.