SWANTON — Jim Hubbard began coaching soccer in 1978. He’s been with the boys’ varsity soccer team at MVU for 13 of those years, and in his own words, he’s spent a ‘lifetime with youth sports between the MVU River Rats, Queen City, and MAHA Hockey.’
“I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s tough to try to plan for what we don’t know, but we’re keeping it very positive,” said Hubbard.
“This is my most important role as a coach in 42 years--to prepare the athletes for all we need to be aware of as we get back into playing.
“We’re taking it one practice and one scrimmage at a time. We will enjoy it while we have it; perspective is everything.”
The MVU Thunderbirds graduated a strong class last season, including all-star goalie Kyle Gilbert, but Hubbard is pleased with the core group he’s got returning for the 2020 season.
“This was going to be the best team I’ve had in almost ten years. We have six seniors coming back, PJ Bouchard, Patrick Walker, Ryan Raleigh; all of them started as freshmen,” said Hubbard.
“Steven King, Isaac Overton, Jordan Bourdeau all came up for playoffs last year. Those gentlemen are all very strong.”
Hubbard is returning three backs for their fourth year with the program, including Corbin Schreindorfer.
“Corbin is 6’2” and really filling out; he’s got blazing speed and uses his body well. He will be dominant,” said Hubbard.
Hazen Luneau, a junior, who is in his second year on varsity, will also have the opportunity to impact the team.
“I felt that this was going to be our strongest season if we could have played a 14 game schedule. We will play eight, starting on September 26th against Vergennes,” explained Hubbard.
Hubbard made sure to recognize a junior, Ashton Chevalier, who tore his ACL over the summer.
“Ashton will be a huge asset to the team by just supporting them, and as coaches, we will be supporting him. He’d worked so hard to get himself ready for the season,” said Hubbard.
“Whether it’s COVID or losing a player to injury, you just keep moving forward because there are more kids eager to learn; that’s why we are here as coaches--to support the kids.”
This year, Hubbard is also the athletic director for the Richford Junior-Senior High School.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the coaching staff and the students. My goal is to go to Richford and help them build their programs. That’s something we have to start with at the grade school level.”
As a coach and athletic director, Hubbard has plenty to do teaching athletes how to handle the nuts and bolts of COVID protocol.
“We take care of clothing, we social distance, there’s no huddle, we take care of equipment, and we wear masks. If we can do that, it might work!” said Hubbard.
“These kids deserve their years of growing up and enjoyment. Everyone has made sacrifices, including our athletes. They’re troopers, and they’ve made lots of adjustments on the field and in the classroom,” said Hubbard.
“The teachers and administrative staff have worked so hard these last few months. No one had a summer break; everyone is trying to figure out how to get the kids back in school to enjoy the experiences we all did as kids.”