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Head Coach Mark Berson Speaks Following First Practice Of 2020
Men's Soccer  . 

Head Coach Mark Berson Speaks Following First Practice Of 2020

Gamecocks open 43rd season of action with Wednesday night practice

All right coach. So it’s official soccer is back after this long, long wait of getting back, how good was this to be back out here today?

“Yeah, it’s great. I’m so happy for our players they’ve worked hard all summer to get ready to come in for preseason and they look tremendous. I mean, very, very pleased with the returners. Our new guys look very good, just a great first practice today, and really excited to get started.” 

With different protocols in place and everything this year with everything going on, how different did today’s practice look to previous first practices and what were some similarities from the past?

“Well I think there’s more similarities than differences. I mean the training’s the same, the types of things we’re doing are the same, we’re practicing a bit more social distancing in our stretching, obviously water is a little different how that’s administered individually and so forth. So a few things like that, but really not too many changes, we’re all wearing masks on the sidelines, but yeah, now the guys are working hard and yeah it’s business as usual. If there is such a thing these days.”

And a lot of new faces out there this year, a lot of newcomers. How exciting was it to get to see them today for the first time and what’d you think of them overall as a group?

“Yeah we have 11 new guys on the team. I thought they were great really, really pleased with the level of fitness that they came back and they look, really good. It’s an adjustment, it’s an adjustment keep making the adjustment to the college game, but these guys are ready. They look very, very good. So I think especially I think our older players have done a good job of cuing them in to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and so really it looked really good today.”

You talked about the shape the guys came back in. How important is that for a coach to see how great of shape these guys, they were on their own this whole time and they came back and really great.

“Yeah I think this is a quite a story because if you remember these guys went home March for spring break and they’ve been home ever since. A lot of them came back in July and started working with Keith Scruggs, our strength and conditioning coach, and Keith deserves all the credit in the world. I mean everything they do is monitored with their heart monitors. They’ve worked really, really hard and they’re in a great shape a game condition right now, as far as this point in the season. So again, Keith did a great job. I’m really, really pleased with the work that he’s done and his staff so, I think the guys have responded too. So they were out for a long time, they came back with a great attitude, they’ve worked really, really hard everything looks great.”

And I think something that people are curious about with some of the uncertainty around things right now. What’s the focus like and as a coach, how do you keep the guys focused with so much on the outside with uncertainty? How do you keep them focused inside?

“I think you control the controllables. There’s things we can’t do anything about what we can do about things about is our training, our attitude, the sharpness with which we come out each day, the effort that we put into what we’re doing and our staff, our assistant coaches have done a great job, strength and conditioning has done a great job and our players have done a great job. So yeah we’re just marching on getting ready and really, really pleased with what this group looks like as far as their talent exceptional, their attitude exceptional and their work rate exceptional. So really, really pleased with where they stand right now.”

And last question, just how big was this today to be out here today, playing soccer together as a group again. Just how big was this an exciting of a time?

“Yeah I think it was great for our players and our staff. We’ve all been cooped up for quite a while and it’s great to get back in the swing of things and really excited to get the season started.”