The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team arrived on campus on the last day of July. After getting settled in their living quarters, the Mocs got together for a team meeting and spent the rest of the evening catching up or getting to know each other.
“They spent a little time together,” Chattanooga head coach Gavin McKinney said.
“Then they got up bright and early the next morning for our fitness test and first training session.”
That bright and early was 7:30 a.m. at Scrappy Moore Practice Field on campus under a bit of rain. The rain continued the rest of that day and over the next as the first two days of August were the coolest on record in Chattanooga.
“The weather was probably really nice from the players’ perspective,” McKinney said. “It’s usually 100 degrees on the turf and we got the complete opposite. It was a nice first two days for them to adjust.”
Then the seasonably hot temperatures returned and the players got a better idea of the conditions they will see through the rest of August and into September.
“The weather is still hot particularly on Sunday afternoons with the 2:00 p.m. kickoff,” McKinney said. “Training in the heat, letting their bodies adapt to it is something that’s really important in preseason camp.”
The Mocs coaching staff will have a chance to see progress this week with a pair of friendlies. The first will be this Thursday, August 9 against Belmont at Finley Stadium. That will be followed with a scrimmage on the road at Tennessee Tech Sunday afternoon in Cookeville.
“Anything we do up until August 17, even in our two preseason friendlies that we have coming up, we’ve got to look at them as teaching moments. Modified training sessions, per se,” McKinney said. “It will be two great games against two good OVC opponents. I think those games will give us as a staff a really clear indication of what we need to work on going forward.”
The team participated in an intersquad scrimmage Sunday afternoon after more than three days of training.
“That was 100 percent about teaching,” McKinney said. “We put some concepts on them over the first three or four days of camp and that was our focus.”
The Mocs return 15 from last season’s squad including Southern Conference Freshman of the Year Chloe Arnold and all-conference performer Jordan Mueller. Seven freshmen will fill out the squad as the Mocs open the season August 17 against Alabama A&M at 3:00 p.m. at Finley Stadium. Admission is free and concessions will be available.
“Team building, the daily training, all that stuff just allows us to get to know the kids a bit better and for them to get to know us. They’ve got to have a strong bond with each other,” McKinney said. “I think they are getting more used to each other and they are getting better. They seem to be excited and hungry.”