St. Al kicks off inaugural soccer program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2003

[8/27/03]On a blisteringly hot August day, the fledgling St. Aloysius girls soccer team took its first steps toward competing on the frigid fields of winter.

Seventeen players turned out for tryouts Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus practice field on Fisher Ferry Road, marking the team’s first unofficial practice.

St. Al has fielded a boys soccer team for nearly 15 years, but will put a girls squad on the field for the first time this fall.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“I was excited, because we’ve been needing a girls team for a long time,” said sophomore Andrea Harrison, who previously played on St. Al’s boys team. “I think (the turnout) is pretty good. I was surprised that many girls signed up. I think it will help.

“We just need a lot of practice. I think most everybody will stay, at least for now.”

Discussions about putting together a girls team had taken place at St. Al for several years, but it was not until last spring that everything started to come together.

Nearly 20 girls signed up for the team, signaling to school officials that it was time to go ahead with the plan.

Athletic director Joe Graves and boys coach Carlos Lee put a schedule together, and longtime youth soccer coach Karen Carroll was hired as the team’s first coach over the summer.

“We put out a circular on who was interested, and it looked like we had a number that was adequate to have a team,” Graves said. “It’s always good to have something else, especially for the girls, and give them another opportunity.”

For Carroll, it’s an opportunity and a challenge. She has coached on the local and state levels for more than 20 years, and her son Greg is about to start his freshman season at Mississippi Delta Community College after starring at Warren Central.

She’ll have her work cut out for her with the Lady Flashes. The players at Tuesday’s tryout were a mixed bag of talent. Some, like Harrison, play with select teams. Others have played on youth teams some are even young enough to still be on youth teams and several have never played soccer before.

“I do know a lot of them have played before. I’m not looking for anything special, being the first year,” Carroll said.

Carroll added that a large number of students at St. Al’s elementary school, St. Francis Xavier, participate in youth soccer. That should help bolster the program a few years down the road.

“We’re hoping for big things here. There’s a lot of kids in the elementary school that will be coming through,” Carroll said.

For now, the Lady Flashes will rely on more experienced players like Harrison and Haley Davis against a brutal schedule that includes Class 5A heavyweights like Clinton, Brandon, and Northwest Rankin.

As the players worked their way through an hour-long set of drills and 5-on-5 scrimmages in the 94-degree heat, optimism ruled.

“I think we’re going to do pretty good,” seventh-grader Aden Rials said.