With the inaugural season for the Bullard Panther and Bullard Lady Panther varsity soccer teams quickly approaching, the two programs have joined up to allow student athletes interested in the sport the opportunity to kick the ball around together at the Open Field Fridays events.
Open Field Fridays was created for interested soccer athletes by the Panthers and Lady Panthers’ first year head coaches, Darren Vossler and Season Caughlin, respectively.
“The concept behind our Open Field Fridays is to get these student athletes on the field and allow them to kick the ball around with each other,” said Vossler. “It’s strictly voluntary and what’s great is that these kids are starting to recruit other kids to come out now. We try to encourage them all to bring someone each Friday just to give them the opportunity to learn the sport and have fun together.”
Since starting the Open Field Fridays a couple of weeks ago, Vossler said the participation levels have been strong, with the event averaging approximately 20 athletes per session.
“We’ve had around 20 kids come out to each Open Field Friday we’ve hosted,” said Vossler. “Since it’s the summer, we, as coaches, are unable to coach the kids, so it’s mostly the athletes getting used to kicking the ball, learning the basics on their own, and really coaching each other. Of course, the girls make up the majority of the players at Open Field Friday; it’s really hit-and-miss with the boys because we’ll have 10 guys one Friday and then just two the next Friday. We’re hoping that through he experience of Open Field Fridays, we’ll be able to boost up both programs’ numbers before the season gets here.”
The newly created Panther and Lady Panther soccer programs were approved unanimously by the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees during the board’s regular scheduled meeting held Monday, Jan. 9. As Bullard ISD trustees voted by a show of hands on the measure, the capacity-filled room erupted into cheers and celebration.
With a petition to the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees signed by over 400 residents of Bullard, the plan for soccer programs at BHS made its way in front of the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees initially in January 2016, but was defeated due to lack of votes.
In their approval of the BHS boys and girls soccer programs this year, trustees voted to begin the Bullard High School boys soccer program as a club soccer team, while the girls soccer program, also approved in the measure in the January meeting, as a University Interscholastic League competitive team.
The Bullard ISD Board of Trustees hired Caughlin to coach the Lady Panther soccer team in January, then hired Vossler in June to head up the boys soccer program.
Vossler said that he has seen several Bullard High School athletes already participating on other athletic teams take an interest in the sport of soccer through Open Field Fridays.
“It’s a big opportunity for the kids to get together and work together as prospective teammates,” said Vossler. “For example, I had one athlete recently that had never played soccer in his life come to one of the Open Field Fridays and ask if he could play. He got out there and started playing and by the time that he left that evening, he told me he was thinking he’d like to play soccer this year. That’s exactly what we want Open Field Fridays to do, to draw those who have and maybe haven’t ever played the sport and give them the chance to test it out for themselves to see if it is the right sport for them.”
Open Field Fridays will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. each Friday at Bullard High School’s Panther Stadium.