The time is now to honor county soccer dynasty|OPINION

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2008

The first time Debbie Sigh saw the prospective new soccer coach, she couldn’t believe her eyes. A man in jeans, a cowboy hat and boots climbed out of a pickup hauling a trailer, and Sigh was not sold.

“I thought, ‘There is no way this man knows anything about coaching soccer,’” Sigh said of David Case.

The offer to Case was simple, Sigh said. “I said we need a coach and if you coach this team, I will do all the legwork and you can concentrate on coaching.”

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That meeting in front of the pickup would guide one of the best, most unheralded sports dynasties this county has ever seen.

The WAV United, a Vicksburg Soccer Organization Division III rec team, won its first state championship in 2003 as an under-16 team. Most of the players were not just under 16, but well under 16 and could have played down, but chose to play up to the 16-year-olds’ division because of a couple players were too old for a younger division.

It was a trend the team would continue throughout the next four years when the core group of players from Warren Central, St. Aloysius and Vicksburg (hence WAV), won four straight state championships playing in under-19 tournaments from Vicksburg to Birmingham.

They won in 2004 and again in 2005. The fourth straight championship came in 2006 and finally in 2007 the United capped its amazing run. By then, only four of 16 players actually were 19 years old.

It was in 2005, though, that the United made the biggest waves. They won the state and regional tournaments and were invited to the Division I nationals, a tournament that featured the second-place team from states around the country in the highest level of select soccer.

Division I teams pay more money than others and have the pick of the litter. It’s cut-throat. So when the WAV arrived it was obvious this was not just another tournament. They competed but did not advance, but on many occasions they scared the cleats off those bigger teams.

Case eventually handed the reins over to Brian Gray, who leads the team to this day. Debbie Sigh is still involved, but not as much because her husband, Robert, is battling illness and their daughter, Rebecca, is playing soccer at Meridian Community College. Becky McCaskill is assisting Gray on the sidelines and Karen Carroll has spent many days and nights helping the WAV. The parents, the same ones who drove from Louisiana to Arkansas to Alabama to support the team, and new ones still cram the sideline hoping one day another team can be as good as the United.

There is another facet to this dynasty — playing college ball. Fourteen of the original members of the team, which had nicknames ranging from Hot Shots to Road Workers to WAV United, have or are still playing college ball.

On Saturday, the Vicksburg Soccer Organization will begin its fall season. It was supposed to start last week, but nasty weather postponed it for a week. Kids of all ages will take to the fields in Bovina with dreams of future greatness. What those players won’t see, though, is recognition for the WAV United. No plaque, or banner, or sign or anything displays this team’s accomplishments. It has taken this sports editor this long to finally recognize what this group did in the world of Mississippi soccer and it is time for others to recognize it.

So now it is time for the VSO or Warren County’s recreation department or whoever to get something out there for soccer players of the future to look up to. At Halls Ferry Park, banners commemorate the best youth baseball teams to come through Warren County over the past decade.

It’s the United’s turn now.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor. He can be reached at