The Juneau Soccer Club XtraTufs traveled to Anchorage to play in the Alaska State Cup soccer tournament that took place August 8-12. They are a group of 18 11-year-old girls who will be sixth graders this coming school year. Juneau should be very proud of these girls' courteous behavior while traveling to and from Anchorage and while lodging at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), and especially for their exemplary sportsmanship on the playing field.
Wherever they went they were complimented for their politeness and courtesy. There were other groups of kids staying at the UAA dorm and the XtraTufs were told by the managers of the dorm that they were the nicest group of kids they have had stay there all summer. The coaches and chaperones heard similar comments from waiters at restaurants, ticket agents at the airports, and from flight attendants.
On the soccer field they were the dominant team in the girls Under 12 division. They scored the most goals (14) of any team in the tournament while only giving up three goals over five games. They received many compliments from opposing coaches on their level of play as well as comments such as "how could they be so good if they are from Juneau?"
A referee who had the highest level of certification and experience a referee could achieve said the XtraTufs were the most disciplined and courteous team he had seen for a group their age. The coaches from Anchorage said it was rare and refreshing to play so good of an opponent with such fine sportsmanship.
At a time when the Opinion Page is full of pieces concerned about how people in Anchorage and the rest of the state perceive the people of Juneau, we should be proud of these girls for the way they represented their community. When alone with their coach at practice they exhibit the behavior of a large flock of Steller's jays and make him laugh a lot. However, when they cross the line to go onto the field they are all business.
They are a tribute to their parents and the Juneau public school system. They are a very special group of girls and their parents are largely responsible for teaching them what is really important in life . They demonstrated what is good about youth sports and had the opportunity to experience the special moments and feelings that make being part of a team what it should be.
Circumstances beyond their control prevented the XtraTufs from putting their best team on the field for the state championship game and they still dominated play but lost 1-0 and the girls were still all smiles when it was over.
You couldn't tell who lost the game by just looking at the reactions of the players. By being humble and respectful to their opponents when they won they were well prepared to handle not winning.
The XtraTufs would like to thank the Juneau Soccer Club Titans U13 girls team for helping them become a good soccer team. The Titans who are coached by Jamie Waste finished as the third best U13 team in the state this year and were the team the XtraTufs practiced with and played against this summer. The success of the U12 XtraTufs is directly related to playing against the very good older girls team. Thank you Titans!
Tom Rutecki, coach
Juneau Soccer Club U12G XtraTufs