Athletes bring their “B” game

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JV B soccer is all about having fun and playing to the best of your ability. “We have the most energy out of every single team, we have the most heart, I would say we are the most fun team as well,” team captain Ben Smlatic ‘17 said. They are all about incorporating intense energy with a great time to make their final years of high school the best time possible. “The energy is what makes us special,” Smlatic said. 

It was considered a joke that very few people wanted to be apart of.  Smaltic thinks that the JV B team was overlooked. “A few years ago it was considered the worst program, coaches would come to practice late or we would have practice cancelled week after week,” Smlatic said. “The attitude on the team a few years ago was terrible.” Smlatic has been a key part of changing the negative attitude the team had. 

JV B has evolved in the last few years though going from the worst in terms of enjoyment and quality to the most enjoyable soccer team to be apart of in Johnston. “JV B’s environment is probably the best environment I’ve been in any sport I’ve played,” Emin Okic ‘17 said. This is his first year playing for the JV B team. “We made it our goal to have a fun time because we are doing it with our spare time and doing it recreationally and we want to go out there and just have a carefree good time but also compete,” Okic said.

A big thing this team has that others don’t is that they respect each other and they value their time and energy,” head coach Jeremy Reinert said. Reinert hasn’t been the coach for very long. “I started coaching the JV B team in March this year,” Reinert said. “From an expectations standpoint they exceeded my expectations.”

This transformation didn’t just happen overnight. “A few seniors last year who had never played soccer before joined the program just to give it a shot, their goal was to have it be fun and laid back,” Smlatic said. “Before they joined everyone on the team was focused on themselves and playing good so they could get off the team, by the end of the year the goal was to play good and have fun.”

Reinert is another reason why JV B has transformed so much. “I didn’t have many expectations when I first came into the team,” Reinert said. While he didn’t have great expectations he did have great results. “We have had a good season so far other than a few blemishes on our record,” Reinert said. Those blemishes consisted of a close loss to Valley and a draw to Norwalk. However they did win 1-0 over Dowling Catholic.

The goal for Smlatic this season was to keep the good times and good performances rolling throughout the rest of the season. “The goal of the team first and foremost is to win every single game,  but also to enjoy high school soccer and be a big enough influence to make people want to join the soccer team next year and year’s forth,” Smlatic said.

The quality of the team has been improved due to Smlatic’s rigorous recruiting. “We had two guys who were on the JV A team and I convinced them to drop down to our team so we have guys who are really good players they just didn’t make the varsity team,” Smlatic said.

Okic believes that the hype is going to lead to a lot more fun. “I think it is because a lot of people have seen that JV B is going to be a lot of fun this year,” Okic said.

The recruitment success has been largely because of the environment that Smlatic hyped up in the preseason leading up to the regular season. “I’ve been hyping this up since August,” Smlatic said. “This is the one thing I’ve wanted to do most senior year, we going to have a t-shirt, we have team parties planned, we have a lot of fans who come to every game.”

Okic has been infected by the hype than Ben has been creating. “Hyping people up, hyping the coach up it’s just the best part of the games we play getting everyone hyped and ready to go,” Okic said. 

Okic believes that the hype is going to lead to a lot more fun for the team. “I think it is because a lot of people have seen that JV B is going to be a lot of fun this year,” Okic said.

All the hype that Smlatic and Okic have been used to create an environment to make it more comfortable for new kids to step into the Johnston soccer community. “I don’t want to make people hate soccer because soccer is supposed to be this fun sport that people can enjoy,” Okic said. “I want to help make it a more fun environment.”

The environment has gotten to the point in which some of the young guys that aren’t as talented have something to look up to. “It’s to the point now that kids in the soccer program look up to our team more than teams in the soccer program that are, quality speaking, much better,” Smlatic said. 

For now Smlatic thinks their quality is lower than the top teams, but he really wants to have a scrimmage vs the JV A or Varsity team to see if they can prove that wrong. “We’ve been asking for a scrimmage against Varsity or JV A but nobody wants to play us and I think it’s because they are scared,” Smlatic said. 

Reinert however doesn’t think they are quite ready yet. “We haven’t really set any of those up, I know Ben really wants to scrimmage the varsity team and I don’t think we’re quite ready for that one,” Reinert said. 

JV B has huge aspirations as a team and as individuals and Smlatic has been a huge catalyst for the team as a leader and a player. “Ben Smlatic is a guy that brought the team together and cared so early about the team and brought in some of the new guys,” Reinart said. JV B shows how a little hard work, fun, and some motivation can turn an attitude upside down.

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