The Lebanon Trail High School boys and girls soccer teams have only freshmen and sophomores right now, but next year they’ll compete against their fellow Frisco ISD teams in one of the state’s top soccer districts. To prepare for that challenge, Lebanon Trail coaches Caitlin Lueders (girls) and Kenneth Hegmann (boys) are building up their players on the field – and off.
“We’re trying to build a culture,” Hegmann said. “I want this to be about more than soccer. I want us to be involved with the community.”
The work on the field has helped the teams have immediate success. Playing varsity-level teams, mostly from outside of FISD, the Lebanon Trail girls have a 23-0-1 record and the boys are 10-7-5. The Lebanon Trail teams have no University Interscholastic League (UIL) district for this school year, but they are competing as an unofficial member of District 5-4A with Anna, Argyle, Celina, Gainesville and Melissa.
The work off the field has included reading to kids at elementary schools, cleaning up trash around Lebanon Trail and Clark Middle School, participating in the Best Buddies program and helping out with the Frisco FastPacs nonprofit. Lebanon Trail players have also assisted at Miracle League of Frisco soccer games, along with other FISD soccer teams, and last month the Lebanon Trail girls visited a nursing home and made Valentine’s Day cards with the residents. The teams also will be holding soccer camps for kids ages 4-11 next week during spring break. (Details and registration here.)
“We do something almost every week,” said Abby Linn, a sophomore who plays center-back. “We get to become better people without even realizing it. Team bonding and community service at the same time.”
Lueders believes the volunteer work helps the team’s cohesiveness, which is critical to any team and especially helpful for young programs trying to establish their identities. But the community service isn’t done with an eye toward improving as a soccer team.
It’s done to promote the growth of each student.
“I want each of these individuals to be the best version of herself,” Lueders said, “on and off the field.”
On the field, the season will end without any playoffs, and occasionally that can make it difficult for the players to stay motivated at practice. But the freshmen and sophomores know that they are building for next season, when they’ll be competing for the playoffs with some of the state’s top teams.
After all, FISD schools have played in five UIL state tournaments and won four championships over the last eight seasons. Next year, all 10 FISD high schools -- including Memorial, which will open in the fall, will be in the same district for soccer.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Derek Mendez, a sophomore midfielder and center-back. “We’re setting the bar here for all the younger classes. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re happy about it at the same time.”