Madison takes reins as Lady Vikes coach

Published 10:22 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

Warren Central girls soccer coach Jay Madison talks to his players during tryouts Wednesday morning. Madison was recently hired as WC’s coach. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central girls soccer coach Jay Madison talks to his players during tryouts Wednesday morning. Madison was recently hired as WC’s coach. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

The Warren Central Lady Vikes took to the practice field along Mississippi 27 on Wednesday for the second day of team tryouts. The hourlong sessions were the first organized team activities of the summer, and also the unofficial start of a new era.

Keeping watch and assessing the players was Jay Madison, their new coach. The 45-year-old Vicksburg native and Warren Central alum is the program’s fourth coach in four years, and his mission is to bring stability and success to a team that has shown flashes of potential while struggling in recent years.

“As the whole process has gone on, it seems to be a good fit,” Madison said. “From my side, from the school’s side. The girls, in the few practices and meetings we’ve had, seem to be responsive.”

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More than 20 players in grades 9-12 showed up for Wednesday’s tryout session, and several more were unable to attend because of other commitments.

Senior goalkeeper Brooke Patterson said the team’s first impression of Madison has been a positive one.

“He’s really nice. He seems like he’s here to help us, and help us win. I like him,” Patterson said. “He’s coached a lot, so that makes me feel better about him. I feel like he knows what he’s doing.”

Madison is taking the reins of a high school soccer program for the first time, but he’s no stranger to the Warren County soccer scene.

A 1987 graduate of Warren Central, Madison later coached and served on the board of directors for the Vicksburg Soccer Organization.

He moved to Monroe with his family in 2012 to take a new job, but it quickly fizzled out. He started a wholesale seed and fertilizer brokership and decided it was time to come back home. Once that decision was made, coaching soccer again was a no-brainer.

“It was something I wanted to do. When it came about, I had friends with kids on the (VSO) teams and they were asking me to coach. So I knew I would coach a team,” Madison said.

The girls varsity coaching positions at both Warren Central and Vicksburg came open this spring when Viktoria Case and Karen Carroll, respectively, left to pursue other opportunities.

Assistant coach Haley Everett was promoted to the top job at Vicksburg. Outgoing Warren Central principal Jamie Creel got in touch with Madison, and Madison said he jumped at the chance to coach high school soccer.

Madison was hired as a para-professional coach — one who works as a part-time employee, but is not on staff at the school.

“It lets me get involved on a different level,” Madison said. “If we can get things stabilized and have success (at WC), it might let me teach soccer to the younger kids as well.”

While Madison’s focus is the Lady Vikes’ success, he said the long-term future of the program will reside in the county’s youth programs.

Building a feeder program that turns youth players into junior high players, and junior high into successful varsity players, is a big goal that he’ll start working toward right away.

“I look to get the team involved with the younger kids. When I was in school, we’d look at the football team and say, ‘Wow, they play for the varsity!’ I want the younger girls to do that with our soccer players,” Madison said. “Those girls need to see that they are looked up to. We’ll try to get a little tradition back in Warren Central soccer.”

For the immediate future, Madison said he’ll put the 2015-16 roster to work right away.

The next three weeks will be full of skill drills and workouts. The only game action they might see will be at a 7-on-7 tournament at Holmes Community College in July, but Madison wasn’t sure if that was a certainty.

“We’re behind not just this year, but technically on their development,” Madison said. “I’m going to focus on that, especially this summer. It’s not fun stuff. It’s just repetition, like taking batting practice in baseball. “I need them to touch the ball about a million times in the next year.”

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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