Warren Central, VHS coaches moving on

Published 10:33 am Thursday, February 12, 2015

Karen Carroll has been a fixture on the Warren County soccer scene for nearly a quarter of a century. Viktoria Case has barely been alive that long.

The two coaches, though, are beginning the next phase of their lives and leaving Vicksburg at the exact same time.

Carroll, who coached Vicksburg High’s girls team for the past two seasons, is retiring from coaching. Case, who spent two seasons as an assistant at Warren Central before moving into the head coaching position this year, is leaving at the end of the school year to move to Starkville.

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The odd bit of timing in the decision leaves both of Warren County’s major girls high school programs without a coach as the offseason begins. Vicksburg Warren School District athletic director Lum Wright Jr. said he expects the search for their replacements to begin next month.

“We haven’t started on anything yet. We’ll do it probably some time after spring break,” Wright said.

Both Case and Carroll said they were leaving the coaching profession for family reasons.

The 26-year-old Case is getting married in June, and she and fiancé Matthew Craft plan to move to Starkville. Case said she’s searching for a teaching position in the Starkville area, but will take a break from coaching.

“It’s a lot of stress. So I’d like to concentrate on marriage, and that stress,” she said with a laugh.

Case went 6-13 in her lone season as Warren Central’s head coach. She had spent the previous two years as an assistant to her father, David. She said she felt like she’s leaving a young, hungry team for whoever succeeds her.

“I’m sad to go. I have a really great group of young girls on the team. There’s 13 seventh-graders, four eighth-graders, five ninth-graders,” Case said. “It’s a nice group of young ones that really love it, so I think that’s what makes me sad. I wish I could keep coaching them, but I do want to continue on with my life and this is the next chapter of my life. I want to get rolling with it.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Carroll, although at a far different point in life.

The 55-year-old plans to travel the country with husband, Robert. Both are recently retired and eager to put into motion plans they’ve talked about for years, she said. The couple is approaching their 33rd wedding anniversary.

“We’re going to travel a little bit, fix up some things around the house we’ve always wanted to. We’re trying to tidy up a few things and head back out,” Carroll said.

Carroll can’t remember what year she started coaching in the Vicksburg Soccer Organization’s youth program, but she’s been a regular on the county’s soccer scene since her two sons Greg and Heath — now both long since graduated from Mississippi State — were part of it.

“I never played soccer before. My brothers did. I grew up in New England and played field hockey. But it’s the same. You have forwards, midfielders, you just play with a stick instead of your feet. So I knew the tactical part of it,” she said. “When I started having children, they needed coaches. So there I went. It’s been 26? Twenty-seven years? It’s been a long time.”

Carroll coached in nearly every level of the VSO program at one time or another, from the recreational to the competitive Cannon program. She moved to the high school ranks in 2003 when St. Aloysius started a girls program and shepherded it through its infancy.

She left St. Al in 2008, and returned to high school coaching with Vicksburg in 2013. In the interim, she continued her work with the VSO.

The Missy Gators won back-to-back division championships under Carroll. The last time they’d won one before that was 2005.

“The girls at Vicksburg developed into a wonderful team,” Carroll said. “They could compete with pretty much anybody. They’re on a high note right now. They’ve got a good bunch for a couple of more years it looks like.”

Although she’s leaving the Missy Gators in a good spot, Carroll said she won’t necessarily miss the demanding nature of coaching. The road is calling, she said, and she’s ready to see what’s out there.

“I don’t think I’m going to miss it so much this time around because it took so much of my time,” she said, before adding a moment later, “I’m going to miss it. I can’t say I’m not. But I’ve got to do some things my husband and I planned to do. See some places other than Vicksburg, Mississippi.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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