Plans to add a Lady Cubs soccer team have developed over the past 18 months.
In a time where most schools are focused on budgets cuts, expense watching and elimination of certain extra-curricular events, Monett looked to expand and asked its student body what athletic event could make the education process more enjoyable.
A survey conducted at the high school, completed by 290 students (149 males and 141 females), revealed that 35 males favored adding a boys swimming team and 60 females wanted to see the addition of girls swimming team. Thirty-eight females responded favorably to the addition of a girls golfing squad and 55 said they would like to see the addition of a girls soccer team.
"We want our student body to be active in our athletic programs," said Monett Athletic Director Daryl Bradley. "We want to ensure that we are providing competitive programs that are mutually beneficial for the students, community and the school."
Based on the survey response, girl's soccer was adopted as a way to reach out to an underserved population.
"We had a large turnout at our first meeting (about girls soccer,)" said Monett coach Dan Janssen. "You could see the interest was there. I am excited for the girls and look forward to the challenge."
A new team
Janssen was the logical choice to lead the Lady Cubs into this new athletic frontier. He is not only the coach of the boys soccer team, but led the Cubs to their second district title in school history this past fall.
"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to coach this soccer team," said Janssen. "We had a lot of ground to cover before the start of the season."
Being the first year for the program, several unique challenges have arisen.
"The majority of the players haven't played organized soccer since they were young at the YMCA," said Janssen. "Other players are just now learning the rules and fundamentals of the game."
The Missouri State High School Activities Association requires 14 practices before the first game. Janssen joked that he wished it were longer.
"During the boys' season, 14 practices seems like way too many," said Janssen. "With these girls it is way too short before our first game."
Through two weeks of practice, an encouraging sign developed on the team.
"The girls are eager to learn and they soak up all the teaching," explained Janssen. "The great thing about them being new to the sport is that they have no bad habits. They listen and respond (to coaches' instruction) very well."
Janssen is assisted by Cathy Eck this season.
The girls' soccer season will not be judged by wins and losses, but whether or not the girls learn and grow as a team.
"My hope is that we form a foundation for future athletes to build upon," said Janssen. "We want to make this season fun, enjoyable and teach the game of soccer."
Monett ordered 30 new purple and white uniforms to have a safe number. With the overwhelming enthusiasm, the uniform order is just enough, as 30 participants will represent the high school.
Members of the Lady Cubs soccer team are: Monica Zengotita, Tara Hancock, Angelica Fernandez, Esmeralda Martinez, Brianna Ortega, Liseth Serrano, Jessica Perez, Susana Salas, Jennifer Rueda, Kristina Valderrama, Janie Salas, Diana Reveles, Shayna Rodriguez, Bailey Petersen, Janette Marquez, Verenice Rodriguez, Sofia DeLeon, Adriel Ridenour, Shelby Obermann, Kassandra Regalado, Raegan Nolan, Marlene Canales, Kendra DePriest, Cindy Serrano, Lupe Renteria, Virginia Lopez, Crystal Baker, Shannon Cox, Isel Trujillo and Alicia Martinez.
Monett High School offers 17 sports, the second most sports programs in the Big 8 Conference. Carl Junction is first with 18, offering girls golf as the only difference.
At the time of the original survey, Monett had 607 students enrolled in ninth to 12th grade (305 male and 302 female) and 252 (152 male and 100 female) participate in athletics, making the ration of students to sports programs 36:1.
"The sport-to-student ratio is important because you are offering more activities with fewer athletes to potentially compete," explained Bradley. "We want high school athletics to be an enjoyable experience but don't want to spread ourself so thin that our sports programs suffer."
Monett High School last expanded its sports program in 1998-99 school year with the addition of boys soccer and softball.
The Cubs finished their inaugural season 6-13-3 and the softball Lady Cubs went 1-13.
Both programs won district titles this season.
Kickoff for tonight's historic event is set for 5 p.m.