By Matthew Davis
Sun Post Newspapers
Paul Winkelmann started his sophomore soccer season at Champlin Park on junior varsity but made the most his move to varsity when it came that same year.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of dedication,” Winkelmann said. “I was happy starting out on JV.”
He even became the junior varsity captain, but after a player went down in the second week of the 2013 season, Winkelmann moved up to varsity and maintained a starting spot through the rest of the season. This year, he returns as the varsity team captain will hope to help other young teammates emerge as Champlin Park brings on a new crop of players for varsity.
“It feels good to be one of the more experienced guys on the team, but we have a young team, and we have a ways to go,” Winkelmann said.
Champlin Park boys soccer has one starter, Winkelmann, back from last season. Players have gone into the new season with almost all positions up for grabs.
“We had a lot of guys from the first week of tryouts that weren’t on the radar and have stepped up and have varsity roles,” Rebels coach Scott Dossett said. “So collectively as a group, we’ve progressed a lot over these weeks, got a lot of training sessions in, a lot of scrimmage.”
Playing in a tough Northwest Suburban Conference will also help the team grow. NWSC teams Maple Grove and Andover both received top-ten votes in the first Class AA poll. Conference newcomer Totino-Grace has been successful in Class A and has top ten votes the Class A preseason poll.
“We want to play the best, so we can learn things now,” Dossett said.
It paid off the year before when the Rebels went 4-10-2 in the regular season but reached the section semifinals. They beat Irondale, another new NWSC team in the opening round of sections. It’s a reminder for a young Rebels team of what be in October.
“We’re not focused on the results, but getting better day by day, so come sections again, we’ve learned how to deal with adversity, overcome those obstacles,” Dossett said.
Until then, much remains a work in progress for the Rebels high school program as a hole. Players on junior varsity right now have the same opportunity Winkelmann did a year ago to make their mark on varsity in the same season.
With Dossett at the helm for the program for more than a year, the fluidity between the teams has been there. Thirty-two different players suited up for varsity at one time or another.
“It’s really good for our program because players are looking to stretch themselves and develop throughout the season as opposed to after one week ‘you’re on this team,’ [and] ‘there’s no place for me to go,’” Dossett said.
Winkelmann’s experience can attest to that for his teammates this season.
Rebels in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Champlin Park boys and girls soccer players alike took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge after a practice during their second week of practice. The funds they raised went to help find a cure for ALS.
“It was pretty chilly,” Winkelmann said about getting a bucket of ice dumped on him.
Former Rebels boys soccer coach Gavin Pugh has been battling ALS since 2013 when he learned of his diagnosis and stepped down from the team. To help fund his cause, the Rebels boys program will host a tournament on October 4.
“We’re going to have a whole bunch of fun in that tournament, raising money for him,” Winkelmann said. “Hopefully we can make a difference in his life.”
Contact Matthew Davis at [email protected]