They wanted it, so they got it.
For the first time in school history, Palmetto Christian Academy will field boys and girls soccer teams competing in the SCISA 2A ranks this spring.
Student athletes, parents and administrators campaigned for the two program additions.
Previously, Palmetto Christian had a coed team that resembled more of a club team, girls coach Morgan Young said. Chris Shiamakonis accepts the challenge as boys coach.
“Despite a late scheduling start, we have been able to schedule matches with many teams,” Shimakonis said. “We view every contest as a huge opportunity to establish our program for the future.”
It's a unique opportunity for the soccer players. The season's first goal will also be the program's first time finding the back of the net. The year's first win is the program's starting point. And, at the end of the season, the season leaders will be the Eagles' all-time leaders.
Shimakonis thinks the transition will be smooth and the players are ready, having participated in area youth soccer programs for years.
“The strength of our team will be the ability to work together as a cohesive unit,” he said. “We are unselfish in distributing the ball and understanding that each player or position has a vital role in our success.”
Shimakonis is joined by assistant coaches Scott Johnstone, Dale Hoover and Steve Tuck.
The Eagles have fairly balanced classes. Andrew Johnstone, a junior, is joined by sophomore Chase Shimakonis and freshman Tristan Lonneman at the forward positions. Midfielders – and all juniors – Elliot VanHoy, Andrew Mulvaney and Tyler Hoover solidify the middle and will help “fuel the offense.”
Defenders Cooper Hirshman (sophomore), James McGaha (senior), Heath Tuck (senior) and Davis Diel (eighth grader) man the backfield with rotating goalkeepers, junior Aaron Holley and sophomore William Jose.
On the girls side, the young program has a young roster. Abbey Fessler is the lone senior. She played on the coed team last year.
“I have a group of amazing ladies that are helping me lay the foundation for this team,” Young said. She praised their work ethic and athleticism, pointing to those traits are definitive team strengths.
Some have no soccer experience at all.
“Many have never played soccer but have been quick to learn and are so willing to sacrifice for this team,” Young added.
“My expectations and goals for this season is to build a family out of these ladies and lay a solid foundation for this team to continue to grow. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls with bigger hearts.”