Stormin’ up the Soccer House

by Will Steingreaber

For as long as they can recall, Simpson seniors Jenny Birch,Lindsay Clark, and Emily Anderson have been playing the game withno hands. Now it’s time they come to grips with reality. The gameis finally over.

Or is it?

For most Simpson athletes, the truth is self-evident; collegesports careers are only a temporary fix. Let’s face it, CowlesFieldhouse isn’t exactly a breeding grounds for professionalathletes. Eventually and inevitably, for most Division IIIathletes, all good things must come to an end.

But just because time expires doesn’t mean the passion dies.

For Jenny Birch, the Soccer House in south Des Moines has been arelevant element to a lifestyle. Since junior high, Birch and hersoccer ball have moved to the indoor turf once winter strikes.Birch played soccer at Simpson her first two years but chose thenormal college experience over the hectic life of an athlete in theend. Yet she couldn’t quite give up the game for good. The SoccerHouse quenches that thirst for competition and gives Birch most ofthe benefits of a typical season.

“It’s a great way to exercise and stay in shape, as well as havefun and meet new people,” Birch explained.

Lindsay Clark, Birch’s former Simpson teammate and currentSoccer House running mate, likens the environment to an almostintramural-like atmosphere.

“There’s a combination of younger and older players,” Clarksaid. “We have high school students, college students, and formerplayers all competing. It’s something that’s a lot of fun, plus weget to keep in shape.”

And gain the upper hand. Like many outdoor sports, winter reekshavoc on soccer facilities. Rendering their fields useless, soccerplayers are forced to seek alternatives if they wish to sharpentheir games during the off-season. And in soccer-ignorant America,finding a place to play during wintertime can be a bit likesearching for the Holy Grail.

The Soccer House is trying to be a remedy

“The facility definitely gives you an edge. Indoor soccer is alot different than outdoor, but it definitely gives you andadvantage. I would recommend it to all Simpson soccer players,”Clark said.

Operating on one-month sessions of eight games, the Soccer Househardly pushes the limits of human exertion, but it does slow theonset of chronic wasting that so many college athletes fear aftergraduation. It’s proof that the culmination of a career doesn’tnecessarily have to detonate bodily decay.

At least once a week, the teams gather to compete and stay inshape. And it’s actually fun.

But the Soccer House is no fountain of youth.

Said Birch, “There are probably better facilities somewhere outthere, but the location makes it nice for us.

And “nice” probably says it best. Nice that the game doesn’tever have to “really” end. Nice that fitness doesn’t have to beself-destructive. And nice that there really is some fun after it’sall said and done.