2023 All-County Soccer: Vicksburg’s Bailey is The Post’s 2023 Coach of the Year

Published 4:05 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

For the better part of a decade, Vicksburg High’s girls’ soccer program was idling along. There were some good years, even a few region championships, but when it came time for the playoffs the Missy Gators were mostly cannon fodder for the more powerful programs in MHSAA Class 5A.

That started to change a bit in the 2022-23 season. Led by a maturing group of solid young players, Vicksburg took a step forward by winning the Region 4-5A championship and its first playoff game since 2010.

It was the culmination of a process as much as a breakthrough, and its architect Samantha Bailey is being rewarded for it by being selected as the 2023 Vicksburg Post soccer Coach of the Year.

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

“It’s exciting, because I have worked for three years with these girls. It’s been long nights and hours away from my kids to be with them. My summers are with these girls — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It pays off,” Bailey said.

Bailey took the reins of Vicksburg’s program in 2021 and has a 26-20-4 record since then, along with Region 4-5A championships in all three of her seasons as coach.

Region 4-5A is, admittedly, one of the weaker ones in Class 5A. Bailey, though, said she could see the progress the Missy Gators were making in how they navigated their way through it. Some of the victories that were hard to earn the past couple of years came much easier this time, and they were more competitive against teams that had previously blown them out.

That dynamic extended to the postseason. Vicksburg beat Columbus 5-0 in the first round for its first playoff win in 13 years. It lost 5-0 to Saltillo in the second round, but it had lost 7-0 in a mercy rule-shortened game to the same team in the 2022 playoffs.

“We did OK, but even last year we had to fight through some of those district games that we shouldn’t have. This year we kind of cruised by them,” Bailey said. “Seeing that consistency and hard work pay off, and then past district and into the playoffs, that was really good. It’s encouraged them to keep working in the offseason.”

As satisfying as it was to see the benefits of their hard work, this season also brought plenty of hope for the future for the Missy Gators. The bulk of their roster consists of freshmen and sophomores, and many of them have already been starters for two or three years. That group includes midfielder Trinity McGloster and forward Amari Johnson, the 2022 and 2023 Vicksburg Post girls’ Players of the Year, respectively.

“I haven’t graduated too many kids, so when you’re dealing with seventh- and eighth-graders making up the bulk of your team as they grow with you, they’re used to the consistency that you want,” Bailey said. “Now we’re looking at ninth- and 10th-graders making up the bulk of your team, and now they really are ready to compete at that varsity level. You’ve built the knowledge, you’ve built the size, you’ve built the speed, so now you’re ready.”

The 2023-24 season will bring new challenges, and not just because of the expectations that come with success. The MHSAA realignment that goes into effect next season will place Vicksburg in Class 6A.

The higher classification is mostly just a new name. Most of the teams in it are currently in Class 5A along with Vicksburg. The new Region 2-6A, however, will include several other solid girls’ soccer teams such as Warren Central, Neshoba Central and Ridgeland. Columbus, which Vicksburg beat in the playoffs, is also in the league.

Bailey said she’s looking forward to it as a chance for the Missy Gators to prove themselves and break out in a different way as a bonafide championship contender and not just the best of a weak league.

“We’ve moved up to 6A and yeah, it’s going to be tougher,” Bailey said. “But it’s going to show the community that we didn’t just win district because of our district. They won because they can play.”

Girls’ All-County Team
Boys’ All-County team
Warren Central’s Ndiaye wins boys’ Player of the Year award
Vicksburg’s Johnson wins girls’ Player of the Year award

Vicksburg Post Soccer Coaches of the Year
2023 – Samantha Bailey, Vicksburg
2022 – Jay Madison, St. Aloysius
2021 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2020 – Kristen Williams, Vicksburg
2019 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2018 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2017 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2016 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2015 – Karen Carroll, Vicksburg
2014 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2013 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2012 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2011 – Trey Banks, Warren Central
2010 – Keiko Booth, St. Aloysius
2009 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2008 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2007 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2006 – Karen Carroll, St. Aloysius
2005 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2004 – Kristin Gough, Warren Central
2003 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2002 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2001 – Shirley Agostinelli, St. Aloysius
2000 – Jay Harrison, Warren Central
1999 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg and Lucy Young, Warren Central

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.

email author More by Ernest