Five days of drills, scrimmages and conditioning, a huddle of the older aged players in the Chaska boys soccer program came together Aug. 16.
Before announcing the teams, head coach Michael O'Reilly and his staff took a few minutes to have the players congratulate each other. Then they warned the JV players that the B-squad players were gunning for their spots.
And varsity guys, JV players want your spot. Healthy competition, yet one program, all with the same goals in mind.
A melting pot of many cultures coming together as one. A beautiful moment, a celebration.
"It's really satisfying. Knowing you put in the work to get to the level you were hoping for. It's extremely gratifying," said Chaska junior goaltender Carson Youngman, who will be on varsity full-time for the first time.
Kyler Kamis, now in his third year on varsity, having missed most of his freshman year with an injury, remembers going through the tryout nerves.
"It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever. But most exciting to make varsity," Kamis, a junior, said.
Chaska, coming off a six-win regular season in 2018, including four victories in Metro West Conference play, is going to be young, a majority of the roster sophomores and juniors.
For O'Reilly, youth means growth. For the Hawk players, youth means opportunity.
"It will be nice to build that chemistry this year, make us that much better for next year. We feel like this year can be a big development year for us," Kamis said.
For Elian Senica, a senior, coming off a breakout season in 2018, the future is now. And he's treating it like a new experience.
"I came in here, I had to prove myself again. I wanted to show I belonged on varsity, showed what I can do for the team this season," Senica said. "Playing with the seniors last year, it was a great experience. It taught me a lot."
Senica is comfortable on the outside in the midfield, or up top in a scoring attack role. He showed the versatility last season to play both. Chaska's returning experience is primarily in the backfield sans junior Daniel Zewou.
"That's where the game is controlled, the middle of the field," Senica said.
"It's a crucial part of the field. An area we need to win," Kamis said.
One area Chaska was solid in this past season was goals against average. In 10 of 14 regular season matches, the Hawks surrendered just one or fewer tallies.
Youngman wants to keep that trend continuing.
"It's pretty important being on the same page. Knowing where everyone is going to be," Youngman said.
"Communication between the defense and goaltender is huge. No one wants to be left out alone," Kamis said.
Chaska will have a strong test to open the season, an 1 p.m. match with host Minnetonka on Thursday, Aug. 22. The home opener is at noon on Saturday, Aug. 24 versus Waconia.
"You roll with what you got, get better as the season goes on. We want to be playing our best at the end of the year," Senica said.