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Huskies Use Soccer Ball To Get Loose

Oct 23, 2014

By Mason Kelley

As Cameron Van Winkle navigated the road to recovery after back surgery last season, the sophomore worked a little kicking into his training regimen.

But it wasn’t a football. Washington’s kicker looked back to a childhood spent playing soccer. He remembered how dribbling and juggling the ball before games helped him get loose.

“Kicking a soccer ball between a couple of guys gets you warmed up,” said Van Winkle, who has made 9 of 10 field goals this season. “It would warm me up. It reminded me of what I used to do, what soccer players always do.”

Van Winkle started to bring the ball to practices. It became part of his warm-up routine. When the Huskies took the field for their season opener at Hawaii, the soccer ball tended to stay around kickers.

Over time, though, the rest of the team started to become intrigued by the idea of adding something new to their pregame routines.  

“I brought it out a couple of times to practices and I think it just caught on with some of the players,” Van Winkle said.

By the time Washington took the field against Oregon last week, the soccer ball was working its way all over the field. Brayden Lenius showed off some nifty juggling skills, while Jaydon Mickens, a junior receiver, jogged down the field passing the ball back and forth with a teammate.

“I’ve seen Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo warm up and they do a lot of footwork drills,” Mickens said. “It really gets the hammies working.”

Lenius was so impressive with the soccer ball, Shaq Thompson jogged over to ask the freshman receiver what he was doing.

“I talked to Brayden Lenius and he said it warms him up, so I’m going to start doing that,” the junior linebacker said. “That was my first time kicking it around.”

Thompson doesn’t have much of a background in soccer, but he said it helped get his legs loose “a little bit.”

“I don’t have moves with a soccer ball, so I was just kicking it,” he said.

What started with Van Winkle has spread throughout the team. Now there is always a soccer ball on the field at practice and before games.

“For me in my personal outlook, it’s a good way to relieve a little stress and kind of just have fun a little bit by kicking a soccer ball around,” Van Winkle said.