Varsity sports don’t always offer extended opportunity and playing time to incoming freshmen, as that is what a junior varsity or freshman team is for.
For Upperman freshman Lily Hamlet however, the Bees varsity soccer team gave her a chance that she took and ran with, according to Head Coach Lyle Daniels.
“Lily is an outstanding athlete,” Daniels said. “She’s grown on the soccer field the entire year … I didn’t expect her, as a freshman, to come in and have the impact she’s had.”
Daniels used her as a substitute at the start of the year, but it became apparent to him that she needed an expanded role.
“The first couple of preseason games, she wasn’t starting,” Daniels said. “I saw really quickly that she needed to be (starting).”
Her coach cites her athleticism as just one of the things that makes her a standout on the field for the Bees. Normally in high school athletics, the jump from middle school to the next level would prove to be a physical challenge for any freshman.
That wasn’t an issue for Hamlet however, as the main differences she saw from middle school to high school were differences that made the game better.
“It’s way more competitive, and way more organized,” Hamlet said. “I’ve loved it. It’s been my favorite season of soccer, and I’ve been playing since fifth grade.”
Hamlet’s development has helped Upperman to one of its better years in program history, according to Daniels, and Hamlet has seen a lot of improvement, not just in her game, but in her teammates’ games as well.
“Everyone is like a family, and I just think that we’ve grown a lot,” Hamlet said. “(I’ve gotten better at) observing the field. I’m able to pass better, and get around people better.”
For Daniels, the future is bright for his program as long as young players like Hamlet continue to step up and grow with each match.
For that to continue to happen, Daniels believes that stability is the first thing that must improve.
“These girls have had a really hard four years,” Daniels said. “They’ve had four coaches in four years … it’s been very difficult on them, but I am really proud of what we’ve done this year. We’ve really grown, and I’m looking forward to the future. We’ve got a great freshman class that came a long way.”