Emotional soccer season finishes up

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Soccer has been a mainstay in the life of the Phillips Family for years.

For the past two seasons, three of my children have played for Jasper High School’s soccer program, and I have served as assistant coach of the girls’ team. 

Stone, my 18-year-old senior, has been the starting goalkeeper for the past three seasons. He was on the team his freshman year but did not play due to a shoulder injury from wrestling. Stone is the reason our family fell in love with soccer. He asked to start playing back in 2013, and he wanted to be a keeper. The kid took to it like a fish to water. Stopping goals was easy for him. Once we moved back to Jasper, he worked hard to become one of the best goalkeepers ever in our area. He was invited to play for a club team in Hoover thanks to his efforts, and he is now being recruited by several small colleges and junior colleges to possibly extend his career beyond high school.

As I watched him play his final high school game last week, I was extremely emotional. I was his coach for most of his playing days, and I even had the opportunity to be on the sidelines for many of his high school games. 

Breeze, 16, and Daisy, 13, both play on the girls’ varsity team. We finished our season Thursday night with a playoff loss at Homewood.

Breeze has started the past two seasons, and she is the bruiser of the team. She hasn’t been carded yet for her rough play, but she’s been called for fouls more than a few times. She has worked hard to improve her stamina and speed. The girl is also very easy to coach.

Daisy was the youngest girl on the team this year. She was also the youngest last season. She has improved a lot in the last two seasons. I’m impressed by her improvement, and I’m glad she is loving the sport as much as her two older siblings.

I am thankful that Jasper City Schools allowed me to be an assistant coach the past two seasons. I hope to continue that for several more years. The soccer programs at the school have grown a lot in recent years. It is the fastest growing sport in the United States, and I have seen the growth in Jasper from the park teams all the way through the high school. 

Dealing with teenage girls is not always the easiest thing. There is going to be some sort of drama for sure. But our team improved by a lot throughout the year. We finished 6-6-1, and the team made the playoffs for the third time in six years as a program.

I enjoy getting to coach my two girls, and it has been great to get to know the other girls. I try to be calm and always deal with the players in a positive way, but the same can’t always be said for my interactions with the officials. I got my first yellow card this year, which I’m surprised it took that long. I think it still shocks the players when I get loud.

Both the high school teams have things to be proud of this season. Our records were not what we wanted, but moving up to Class 6A has been tough for every sports program at the school. Soccer sometimes feels like the forgotten sport at JHS, but the people who care about it and the players who play it have a passion for the sport. There will be a lot of success for JHS soccer in the years to come.

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James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. Soccer confused him in his early days of coaching, but he now has a firm grip on the possibly communist sport. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.