FARGO, N.D. (BVM)– The North Dakota High School Activities Association announced on July 24 that it had approved guidelines for a return to fall sports.
“It always seemed to be progressing, especially with the way North Dakota runs, that we would be doing some sort of activity,” Fargo Davies High School boys soccer team head coach Ian Costello said.
Still, as an assistant coach for the girls soccer team, Costello knew firsthand what it felt like to lose a season. As the summer progressed, both he and his players were worried about the season.
“I was really nervous about that,” said Yonas Adams, a Fargo Davies senior and team captain. “I didn’t think they would come out with this decision and I didn’t want my senior season to be cut short.”
Even while he and his coaches were nervous about the future of the season, they still had to prepare for it.
“We started (captains practices) about two weeks after school ended,” Adams said. “As the captains, we tried to keep everyone safe.”
“They’re captains for a reason,” Costello said. “They show their leadership. Those captains set the tone.”
The practices have gone on throughout the summer but were always run in a safety-first manner. It was this mentality and the boys’ dedication to getting better even under strange circumstances that gave Costello a lot of confidence going into the Eagles’ first official practice on Aug. 3.
“I think my expectations will be similar to the past as far as where they should be when it comes to their soccer skills,” Costello said.
Heading into his seventh year as the Eagles’ head coach, Costello and his players have worked hard to form a tradition of success at Davies. One that Costello often reminds his players of.
“I talk about the past and the fraternity being built with this program,” Costello said. “You also owe it to the past teams to see what you can do and try to get over this little hill we’ve been stuck on.”
That hill is the state championship, which the Eagles have lost three years in a row — twice to Bismarck High School and once to West Fargo.
“I tell them this idea of never being satisfied,” Costello said. “They’ve kind of laughed at it because we’ve lost the state championship game the last three years so they keep saying, ‘yeah we’re not satisfied yet.’”
This senior class in particular is not satisfied. The players have spent their entire high school careers making it to the state championship only to lose. To them, this is the season to finish what they started. Win it all not just for them, but for the classes that came before them.
“We’ve been to the state championship three times since my freshman year,” Adams said. “Every year we have kids that are ready to step up because they know what needs to happen. I’m really excited to see what this group can do this year.”
The Eagles enter this season similarly to how they entered last season — hungry and ready to prove they are not the underdogs they appear to be because of their youth.
Last year, they entered the season having lost 13 seniors and nine starters. Losing so many starters and senior leadership led to many thinking Davies would not be able to make it to a third straight state championship.
“It was something that just pushed us,” Adams said. “We still have that mindset of pushing through the doubts.”
Davies is ready to do that again, but this year will be different than any other the players have experienced. Between the safety guidelines and the looming fear of having to postpone or even cancel the season, the Eagles will have to stay focused.
“I think I have to try and normalize the two hours they’re with me,” Costello said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
It will be difficult, but the Eagles are ready. Led by Adams, who missed last year’s state championship with a broken fibula, and other seniors like Pablo Nunez, Davies is ready to win the last game of the season.
“My goal is to make it back to state again and finally prove a point,” Adams said. “We just want to break that cycle and I feel like we have a chance to do that.”