Since they were in fifth grade, the Manitowoc Goalgetters U-18 girls team has been spending their summers together improving their game.
After the summer ends and their prep seasons begin in the spring, the players are met with a unique situation. They have to compete against their teammates in different uniforms.
“It’s kind of sad,” said Valders’ Sydney Gutman. “Summer league is a lot of fun. I grew up with these girls. Once a game is over we’ll congratulate each other, win or lose.”
For Manitowoc Lincoln’s Holly Nichols, the games against her Goalgetters teammates are always ones she enjoys the most.
“When a Valders or Roncalli game comes up it’s what you look forward to,” Nichols said. “Once the game starts it’s game time, there’ll be time for hugs afterward.”
Nichols added that for so long, all she knew was playing with her Goalgetters teammates.
“Playing over summer is a definitely a blast,” Nichols said. “We’re played so long that going to different teams for high school seems the strange part. There’s always smack talk based on who wins or loses.”
Being teammates right after the prep season has its own difficulties, though.
“We lost to Valders in overtime in the last game of the season this year,” Roncalli’s Emma Dramm said. “I had to really think if I wanted to play with this girls again but you get over it quick.”
Dramm’s Jets’ teammate, Lauren Clark, had similar thoughts on the short memory the girls have.
“During summer we’re all close,” Clark said. “We forget our high school seasons because we’ve got work to do.”
That doesn’t mean they won’t help out their high school teammates when the opportunity arises.
“We’ll talk about their strengths and weaknesses with our Roncalli teammates,” Dramm said. “I’m sure they do the same.”
Nichols confirmed Dramm’s theory.
“We’ll give our Lincoln teammates any information we have,” Nichols said. “We’ll give them info on how they normally play or what they like to do.”
Megan Kronschnabel, who plays with Nichols at Lincoln, feels it’s just part of the game.
“We know the girls really well,” Kronschnabel said. “We know how best to defend them, to help us pull off a victory.”
Even with the subtle gamesmanship, Nichols knows playing with some of the best players in the area is a benefit to her.
“It’s definitely tougher competition,” Nichols said. “I’ve not always been one of the better players but you have to earn it. I still look up to the other girls on both teams. They’ve made me the player I am.”
There’s also the issue of trying to please two sets of coaches, high school and Goalgetters.
“At first it’s tough because you’re taught different things,” Gutman said. “It can take two weeks to readjust to the different coaches.”
Clark sees this as a benefit though, despite had initial troubles.
“It really helps us understand the game more,” Clark said. “It gives you that much more experience with the game.”
At the end of the day, Gutman says having so many talented players on one team is a real blessing.
“All of the other teams we play against in summer are super good,” Gutman said. “It helps because everyone is good. It’s not a competition against (our teammates) but against the other teams.”