Soccer and hockey are two sports not typically considered together, but are similar in strategy.
"As a coach, I think the two games work well together," said Fairmont Area head boys hockey coach Brady Meyer. "The players learn spacing and to anticipate their opponents moves or their next moves, and the strategies are also very similar."
With the similarities, including a fast game speed, it is no wonder that Fairmont senior Trason Arens was drawn to play both sports for the Cardinals.
CLEARING THE PUCK — Fairmont Area’s Trason Arens (16) clears the puck away from an unidentified Mankato East/Loyola opponent during regular-season hockey action at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. Arens has excelled both on the soccer field and on the ice. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"We used to go to the rink to watch my older brother (Tieg) play hockey," said Arens. "And I remember when I was really little, walking up to the glass and it was just love at first sight. I told my parents right away I wanted to play."
Although soccer didn't excite Arens the same way that hockey did in the beginning, the all-South Central Conference goalie eventually grew to appreciate both games.
"Soccer was just something that everyone in our family did. But I really liked it," said Arens. "I didn't play for a couple years, went over to try football, but then came back to play U15."
On the soccer field, Arens has experience playing both between the pipes and in the field, while on the ice he has patrolled the blue line and has used his scoring abilities as a forward.
"I got started playing goalie when I came back from football to soccer. The team I was playing on needed one, and so I thought 'how hard could it be,'" said Arens.
On the ice, Arens also has played different positions to fill the Cardinals' needs.
"When I got to varsity though, there weren't enough guys that wanted to play defense, so the coaches asked me to move back there," said Arens. "Last year was the same thing. I spent most of the season as a defender, but that isn't where my heart truly was. I'm glad to be back at forward this season."
His willingness to play different positions both on the ice and the soccer field is a great asset for his coaches that doesn't go unnoticed.
"Trason is a good two-way player for us," said Meyer. "If we need him to play defense, he can go back there and feel confident, and he also has one of the quickest shots on the team. It's nice to have a utility player like that, that you know you can put anywhere and have confidence that he'll be able to play there."
With his spot this season away from the goal, Arens has found the net for three goals and has gotten four assists, after netting just one goal and two assists as a junior from the blue line.
"As a player, it can be frustrating because as you grow up playing hockey you dominate, because the teams play at the 'B' level, and then you get to varsity and it's a lot harder," said Arens.
Arens is not just focused on his improvement this season, but the co-captain also us helping both his teammates and the players in the youth program excel as well.
"Trason is just an all-around good kid. He has been a great leader for both teams, and he is always communicating with his teammates," said Meyer. "He's a verbal leader, in a good way, helping his teammates see different things and helping them get better. When you see players talking like that, to me it's a good thing because it shows they have confidence."
The Cardinal senior is helping spread that confidence to the younger players.
"This summer, Trason put in the effort to get his coaching certification to help with our youth program," said Meyer. "He helps both the kids in soccer and hockey, which is great because that's how he learned. To see him returning the favor and contribute to a program that way is great."
For his efforts this fall between the pipes, Arens is considering an opportunity to play college soccer for the University of St. Mary's in Winona, but is still undecided.
"It's a tough choice for me to make. I really enjoy soccer, but it isn't my favorite sport," said Arens. "Hockey has always been what I love the most."