• 54°

Gough leads Lady Vikes to lofty stature

[4/24/04]In her four years of playing soccer at Vicksburg High, Kristin Gough then known as Kristin Chapman received four Mississippi player of the year awards. In her senior season, Gough also was named The Vicksburg Post’s Player of the Year on the first All-County soccer team in 1999.

Her career has come full circle five years later as Gough has earned The Vicksburg Post Soccer Coach of the Year award.

“It’s a big honor,” Gough said. “I’m very flattered in my first year of coaching to be awarded that. I think the girls did a really good job. Obviously, they were the ones that got on the field and played and made us as successful as we were.

“I just got to stand there.”

In her first season of coaching, Gough led Warren Central to a 10-10-1 record and a berth in the Class 5A playoffs for the first time since 2000. In the postseason, the Lady Vikes traveled to the Gulf Coast where they pulled out a 1-0 victory over Pascagoula before falling 2-0 in the second round to Long Beach.

Gough helped mold a very young team only two senior starters into a competitive contender. She emphasized teamwork and discipline while giving needed encouragement to the players.

“I had a lot of confidence in them,” Gough said. “I think that helped jump start everything. It had been a while since they had believed in themselves, and I think that made a huge difference.”

The adjustment to coaching was difficult for someone like Gough, who was used to running onto the field and taking care of business herself.

“It’s totally different standing on the sidelines and coaching,” she said. “As a player, you go out there, you perform and you do it. As a coach, you have to figure out how to put it in words to explain it to these players so that they can go out there and do it.”

Warren Central struggled through the early part of the year. With a tough schedule that featured some of the state’s top teams, the Lady Vikes started at 3-8.

“They were learning as well as me,” Gough said. “I was learning as we went, just trying things and seeing what would work.”

Then came a rivalry game with Vicksburg that turned the season around.

The Lady Vikes notched a stunning tie against the favored Missy Gators and reeled off wins in five of their next six games to reach the playoffs.

“I think it helped that I went to the rival high school,” Gough said. “That really made them work hard. They wanted to make me look good.”

With a core of players returning next year, Gough is hoping the teamwork and fundamentals she installed this season will carry over into the fall when she hopes for a winning season and possibly a division championship.

“Our thing was when we stepped onto the field, either to practice or to play, we were one team,” Gough said. “It didn’t matter who scored or what, because we all did it together.”