Collins wants team to have fun

Dave Becker

Hawaii, the near mention of the name conjures up images of paradise, with volcanoes, hula skirts and tourists wearing sandals and black socks. To many it is the ultimate vacation destination. But that’s not why the Lady Blues soccer team is going there, at least not the whole reason.

Washburn opens up the women’s soccer schedule August 30 on the road, or in the air, at Hawaii Pacific University.

Coach Tim Collins picked the home opener for two reasons.

“First, I wanted to do something special for our seniors this year. They’re a terrific group of players and responsible for the turnaround in our program,” said Collins. “Really we wanted to play a California team, but we got our conference schedule set late, so we weren’t able to make it work. But a few of the California teams suggested that we play Hawaii.”

Collins has high hopes for his team in Hawaii especially because of favoritism towards the home team.

“Hawaiian refs are known towards favoring the home team,” said Collins. “So we’ve been doing a lot more mental focus exercises to ready us for that, but we just have to be mentally tough and be ready for anything.”

Senior Jessica Mainz echoes her coach’s sentiment. “We hope they will be fair, but if they’re not we really have to be ready to play through the adversity,” said Mainz.

Collins related that the conditioning during the off-season didn’t change much, but that he wanted his players to be more focused on the task at hand.

“I think we’re ready for what we have ahead of us,” said Collins “We are ahead of where we were at this time last year and we’ve done it with fewer practices. My hats off to them, they’ve worked hard this year.”

With a difficult regular season schedule filled with tough conference opponents Mainz remains confident.

“Everybody’s good this year,” said Mainz. “But we’re returning all of our starters and we ahead of where we were last year, so I’m really looking forward to some good competition in our conference.”

Coach Collins is also excited about conference play and the already brewing rivalry with MIAA newcomer, the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“We’ve already developed a bit of a rivalry with UNO, they have a terrific tradition in soccer and we’d like to have the same,” said Collins.