PROVINCETOWN — At the top of the hill on Winslow Street sits Motta Field, home of the Provincetown Fishermen soccer team. It’s an energetic mix of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, coed and diverse in color and national origin.
“I don’t think there’s another [middle-school] team as diverse as ours,” says Tracey Anderson, the team’s assistant coach, who also is the Provincetown Schools’ technology integration specialist.
There are 11 boys and 7 girls on the team, which includes kids from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and Chile.
“A lot of these kids have had long journeys to get here,” Anderson says.
The Fishermen play other middle-school teams from Nauset Regional in Orleans, Monomoy Regional in Chatham, Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Harwich, Mattacheese Regional in Yarmouth, and St. Francis Xavier in Hyannis. Some of the other teams are also co-ed; others are all boys.
“I like going to away games to get outside of Provincetown,” seventh-grader Alexis Lloyd of Provincetown says.
“For us, it’s more about participation and the journey,” says Coach Eric Shannon. He teaches third grade but has been coaching the middle-school soccer team for the last few years.
Academics come first for the team members. The coaches make sure all their schoolwork has been completed before they take the field. On the pitch, Shannon says he focuses on teaching the kids how to play the game respectfully and with good sportsmanship.
Anderson says there isn’t any boy-versus-girl drama among the Fishermen. They all see themselves as a team. The kids sign contracts before the season starts agreeing to be respectful with opponents and each other, avoiding trash talk, helping players up if they’re knocked down, and refraining from alcohol and drug use.
“We want the kids to understand you’re committing to a team and part of that is being a healthy player,” Shannon says.
Jack Verde and Andres Vida are sixth-graders from Provincetown who are getting their first taste of team soccer.
“It’s nice to have a team in your home town,” Jack says.
Although Motta Field doesn’t have a scoreboard or many bleachers, it seems like the perfect hometown field — just a short walk from the school and spacious, with the Pilgrim Monument towering over it.
Anderson says that after Provincetown High School closed, nobody was sure where the sports program would go. But Shannon has done much in the last three years to build up the middle-school sports program, she says. He increased participation in the basketball program before turning over that coaching job to John Morgan and Chelsea Roderick for the upcoming season.
The number of kids on the soccer team has stayed around 20 for the last three years. “It’s gotten better every year,” Shannon says.
Shannon does hope to get more support for the team. A lot of kids started the season without cleats, so emails were sent around to locate hand-me-downs.
The coach would like there to be a scoreboard and more bleachers at the field to encourage people to attend games and make it a community event. The team practices or has games on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m.
Thanks to a donation from the Provincetown VFW, the kids have brand-new game uniforms this year.
“It’s those little things that help you feel like a team,” Shannon says.
At this week’s Monday afternoon practice the kids listened as Coach Shannon directed them to run drills and scrimmage with each other. A few former team members who are now in high school stopped by to practice with the current squad.
Shannon and Anderson both said they feel great when kids want to come back and practice with their old team.
The Fishermen’s next home game is Friday, Oct. 18 at Motta Field at 4 p.m. against Monomoy.