New coach getting Crusaders ready

Published 11:36 pm Friday, August 21, 2009

First Baptist Christian School’s home soccer field is a 10-minute ride from the school over on Godwin Boulevard at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church. It’s a spartan field with no benches, no bleachers, no scoreboard and no shade.

“This is the second week of practice,” said the Crusaders’ head coach George Martin earlier this week. “We came out and started in the hottest part of the year, then we had all of the rain at the end of last week and we had a muddy field.”

A single portable toilet was a notable upgrade to the field. Martin’s hands show a number of nicks and cuts, the price of getting soccer balls out from a thick jumble of shrubs and briars in a ditch behind one of the goals.

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Last season, with a roster ranging from juniors to sixth graders, and having to face a full varsity schedule for the first time in First Baptist’s soccer history, the Crusaders faced more setbacks than victories.

Despite all that, Martin, in his first year coaching the Crusaders, couldn’t be any more enthusiastic to get the season under way.

Martin’s daughter-in-law teaches at the school, and he has two grandsons on the team, so he’d been to all of First Baptist’s games during the last two years.

“Hopefully, I’m doing it right,” said Martin.

“The kids get along really well, and the team spirit we have is very good, which is something we’ve been working on this year,” said Martin.

This is the first year First Baptist has a senior class, so all of its sports teams, the soccer squad included, are finally at a full varsity age.

Senior Pete Twisdale was the main offensive threat for the Crusaders last season, when he was named All-Eastern Virginia Athletic Conference. Twisdale, who’s also a force during basketball season, is 6-foot-4, but has plenty of speed to play forward on the soccer pitch.

More than just getting older, Martin sees his players becoming more talented. Many of his players took part in summer camps and have been playing for club teams.

“For most of the team it’s their second year completely together, but it’s been tough because when they started it was the first time playing soccer for some of them,” said Martin.

“We’ve always been able to run with the other teams, but we haven’t had the skills which are needed at certain positions.”

“With playing more and with some going to summer camps, you see it’s a big difference,” said Martin.