Acclimation has been the name of the game for Eddie Horn and the Jefferson City Lady Jays this week.
Returning for his third stint at the helm of the girls' soccer program, Horn has used the Lady Jays' annual soccer camp that wraps up today as an introductory period of sorts for both sides.
"It's been my first real look at the girls, in-depth, for the lack of a better way to say it," said Horn, who took over after Matt Stacey left following six years as head coach to become an administrator at Lewis and Clark Middle School. "Obviously I've seen them play and all that, but to really work with them and watch and coach. It's my first go with that.
"It's been a positive. It's been a lot of fun. It's been a while since I've coached girls soccer, so it's been good for me, and hopefully it's been good for the players."
And what has Horn seen from his new team so far?
"They have a great spirit about the team," he said. "Technically, I've seen some good things. Matt Stacey did a great job with the program. It's in good shape right now. Hopefully I can carry that on a little bit and maybe add to it. I'm excited about the season."
Horn inherits a program on the rise. Jefferson City returns 10 starters from a 17-4-1 squad that reached the program's third state quarterfinal in school history.
"It's a lot better than when I started the program," Horn quipped, referring to when he led the program for nine years after it started in 1991 and returned for the 2002 season as an interim coach. "There's definitely some pieces to work with.
"I think there's always some apprehension when there's a coaching change from the player's perspective and what it's going to be like. I really think it's going to be pretty seamless because Matt and I worked together for seven or eight years and I think we view the game the same way and we like to play the same way. There's not going to be a lot of changes, per se. You know, I might set the team up a little differently than he would, but I think big picture-wise there will be very few changes."
This week's camp has given Horn ample time to get a feel for what he'll have heading into the spring.
"That's why I think the camp is really beneficial for me, to really get a big picture of where we're at and what we need to work on," Horn said. "For me personally from a coaching standpoint, I want to see what we have and help me formulate in my mind what is realistic on what I think we can play. You need to assess the skill level of the players and how athletic we are and how we want to set the team up heading into the spring season.
"Then really just formulate a plan from there going into our preseason, as far as what we need to focus on from a fitness perspective, from a strength perspective, from an athletic perspective. And then once the season begins, on imprinting the style of play that we want to play."
With 39 girls in the camp for grades 7-12, Horn likes what he sees so far.
"The beauty of this camp is that really for the most part everybody can play," he said. "It's not like you have some girls that are like, "Well, I've never played soccer before, I think I'll go out and give it a try.' Of the girls that we have in the upper-age groups, they can all play. They've all played club, so they all have a decent touch, a decent understanding of the game and their technique is pretty solid. It definitely gives you some building blocks going into the season. The future looks decent."
There are also 36 girls in camp for grades K-6.
"There's definitely some players that have a great future in the game in the younger kids' age group," Horn said. "The trick is to keep them in the game and turned onto the game and continue to train and getting good opportunities to play so they develop on this journey that they're on."