Worra continues to push limits
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
Even the best athletes experience growing pains in their younger years. While Travis Worra is one of the most advanced goalkeepers to come through the men’s soccer team’s locker room in years, his sophomore year has so far been all about learning his limit in the training room and on the practice field. The Lancaster, Pa., native’s hard work has earned him the starting job on a NCAA Division I team, but the team’s head coach Rob Thompson said he has plenty to learn about how to manage his body correctly.
According to Thompson, the previous two starting goaltenders he coached were nowhere near as advanced as Worra is in their sophomore years. His never quit attitude, combined with his naturally built keeper’s body – tall and lanky at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds – have accelerated his college career tremendously.
“He’s ahead of those guys who have had really good careers here,” Thompson said. “So he’s in a good place right now, and I don’t anticipate that going anywhere but better.”
In the games Worra has played in his second year, Thompson has seen him learn to control himself and trust his teammates.
Last season, Worra had a tendency to take risks, playing too aggressively when he should have trusted other players to handle their assignments during offensive rushes.
Worra is also able to contribute more as a leader, having one year of experience under his belt.
“I think he feels more comfortable, knowing the guys, feeling confident…not afraid to talk,” Thompson said. “He does have those [leadership] qualities. He’s a guy who can lead because people see how he works, and how much he wants to win.”
What Worra has struggled with the most this season is judging when to call it a day on the practice field. At times, Worra has pushed himself too far. It’s a problem more coaches wish they had, but according to Thompson, Worra needs to find his limit.
“He’s still a little kid about it,” Thompson said. “He wants to play every day, train extra; he’s a really good worker, but almost a little bit too much.”
Worra’s insistence to put in the extra work caused concern at the beginning of this year’s preseason. The sophomore had worked so hard in the offseason that he started getting muscle pains in his legs in the team’s earlier weeks. Worra, who had never had many injury concerns, was not sure how to handle this. He said was not pleased to find out he would be missing the first preseason game and be put on four day’s rest.
“When he told me to sit out, I was a little upset,” Worra said, “But I knew that it was the best for me because I would’ve done too much. That’s more of a maturity thing, and I do think I gained that maturity through sitting out for a little while during preseason, sitting there, relaxing, getting the treatment that I needed.”
Worra said he feels that learned a lot about how to train properly in the past year. While before, he sometimes trained harder than he needed to, he now understands better how to regulate his body and improve himself without causing harm.
That said Thompson still finds it difficult to get him to take a break.
“It’s hard for him to say, ‘Go in for a pool workout’, Thompson said. “Some of our guys, where we take them out of training for a day and tell them to go work out in the pool and rest, they’re happy about that.”
Resting Worra has given Thompson the opportunity to let his other goalies get playing time, and this has created a more competitive environment.
“That’s what you want, you want these goaltenders to compete with each other,” Thompson said. “They feel like their close enough to compete and push each other, and because Blake [Dawn, backup goalkeeper] did make a jump, we felt good with him in goal.”
Having Dawn show improvement this season also gives the Wildcats extra insurance when they need to rest Worra. Thompson said he feels he doesn’t have to worry about his backup losing the game for them, even though he is currently 0-3 on the season for UNH.
Thompson said that it is important to keep in mind how young Worra is. Considering how far Worra has come since he arrived last season, his coach has good feelings for the most part. Worra is hoping to go pro at the end of his college career, and Thompson believes it is a possibility. His wide wingspan and tall, thin frame is just what most professional teams are looking for.
Worra has earned three shutouts this season, including one against Michigan State. He is 3-1-2 this season, his first loss coming last week against Rhode Island.