MUNCIE – The Central boys soccer team has just concluded one of its more enjoyable practices of the preseason. It’s a morning practice before classes have begun, and the Bearcats have spent considerable time with some of the players’ favorite practice drills.
As the session concludes, there is more team bonding on the docket on this day, with a team lunch scheduled as well. Coach Shea Hill encourages his players to spend time together, both on the soccer field and off.
Chase Clasby and Devon McNabb seem to have taken this message to heart. They spend considerable time together on the field, where they combined to score almost 40 goals last season for the Bearcats. But they also spend a lot of time together on another field each fall: the football field.
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Both seniors, McNabb came to Central last year following the school consolidation after spending his first two high school years at Southside. Both McNabb and Clasby had moonlighted as the football kicker at their respective schools, so they embraced sharing the duties once they became schoolmates. It provided a natural choice for someone to talk to while they waited for the next time a kicker was needed, and a natural way for the two players to better connect.
“We like to joke around on the sidelines of the football field, just have fun,” McNabb said.
Clasby describes McNabb as being outgoing, someone who is able to use his sarcastic sense of humor to make teammates laugh. McNabb said Clasby also has a penchant for joking around with teammates.
“We all make jokes with each other and mess with each other,” Clasby said. “But in a good way.”
Both plan to continue kicking for the football team, and McNabb said having two players share those football duties is better from a soccer perspective, saying his leg isn’t as tired during Saturday soccer games after splitting the football duties with Clasby the night before.
And their soccer coach is confident that time helped them bolster their connection for those Saturday games.
“Watching those guys out there and seeing them kind of have another chance to bond, get to know each other a little bit better and be together in a setting outside of soccer, I think helps them on the field as well,” Hill said. “We try and spend a lot of time together off the field, heck, we’re going to a team lunch right after this. But the more time they get to spend together off the field, the better it turns out for them on the field as well.”
Clasby finished last season with 18 goals and four assists. Hill describes him as an especially competitive player with a natural instinct to score goals. McNabb, who finished last season with 21 goals and six assists, is described by Hill as someone whose instincts skew toward all-around play, and he said the two players’ differing instincts seem to balance each other out well. And they’re both quick to apply defensive pressure after a turnover, Hill said.
Southside happened to have a senior-laden roster in 2013, so McNabb ended up playing with a lot of new teammates last season. Hill noticed McNabb seemed to get better acclimated to Clasby and the rest of his teammates as the season went along, so the idea of the two players starting with an existing connection this season excites him.
“This whole team excites me,” Hill said. “We return nine starters from last year and then we’ve got two guys coming off the bench that will put us in a better position at the beginning of this year than we were at the end of last year. The fact that those guys already know each other, and then you have seven other guys that they played with still on the field, it’s not like we’re re-learning the habits of everybody. Everyone knows each other, they’ve played together now for a while.”
Contact prep sports reporter Sam Wilson at (765) 213-5807. Follow him on Twitter @SamWilsonTSP.