Practice starts with the players on Navarre’s boys soccer team running laps around the field. They follow that with pushups and situps and then run through a series of drills that involve running, weaving around obstacles and leaping over bars.
More than 20 minutes pass and the Raiders haven’t even touched a ball yet, but that’s the way first-year head coach Abdalla Elbaioumy, also known as Coach Bedo, wants things to be.
“We’ve put a lot of focus on fitness. I think that’s been part of the problem in the past,” Bedo said. “Getting in great shape sets you up for success during the season. If you aren’t in great shape, we can’t compete at the level we want to compete at this year.”
The players, despite being worn out after the intense workouts, have embraced the new approach to preparation for a season.
“We’re all working hard but we know it’s going to make us better,” senior Mario Cruz said. “We’re excited to see how things are going to go this season.”
Senior teammate Zach Sheeley has similar thoughts.
“He has a different coaching style and is a lot more positive,” Sheeley said. “We feel good about the way things are going. We’ll see how it transfers onto the field.”
Bedo brings a wealth of experience to the table. He grew up in Egypt and played youth and professional soccer over there. He also played for one of the best pro teams in Africa and has also coached at the youth and pro levels.
“Being in this community, I wanted to help out the high school. I felt like I could improve the team and help these players get to the next level,” Bedo said.
He likes what he has seen from his players so far. They have responded to the challenge he has presented them with and are pushing to get better each day.
“I think we can have a really great team this season,” Bedo said. “All of the players are in good spirits and have a positive mindset and are willing to do what it takes to win. They are working hard and are competitive.”
Read more in the Nov. 3 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.