By CHUCK HATHCOCK
Building a program from the ground up is a daunting task.
That is exactly the challenge that Kirk Academy girls soccer head coach Andy Hollingsworth and his coaching staff are facing. The Raiderettes begin their initial campaign August 6 at Bayou Academy.
“We are excited about making history at Kirk Academy,” Hollingsworth said. “The girls and coaches have been working hard to put a solid product on the field. It’s a process and we all understand that.”
Hollingsworth and his coaches have 15 players this fall. The squad began work prior to the end of this past school year. Work has continued into the summer, leading up to the start of the season in August.
“We started our work focusing on getting better individually,” Hollingsworth said. “The girls have done that. You can see our improvement.”
A Kirk graduate, Hollingsworth coached soccer overseas while serving in the military. He will be assisted by Kevin Steed, Chris Wilkinson, and Terry Cook. The four coaches bring 60 years of experience in soccer to the table.
“I’m excited about the coaches that we have working with our girls,” Hollingsworth said. “They are very experienced guys, who know a lot about soccer.”
Much of the focus heading into the season opener has been team play.
“We have switched our focus as coaches on the team part of the game,” Hollingsworth said. “Some of the things that we are beginning to put in is our offense and defense along with our special teams play. We are working on things like penalty kicks, inbounds, corner kicks, and direct kicks. All of these areas have strategies to work on.”
Heading into the season opener, Hollingsworth wants to see his team in game-type situations. His chance will be August 3 in a scrimmage against Pillow Academy in Greenwood.
“We need to see how we respond against other teams,” Hollingsworth said. “The scrimmage against Pillow in early August will give us a gauge as to where we are as a team.”
There are no seniors on the squad this season. Hollingsworth does have four juniors.
Lauren Snyder will work at center back. Mary Fran Basinger is expected to see action at a wing position. Peyton Lee will work as a midfielder and possible at left center back. Annie Herring is expected to be used at goalie.
Savanna Holmes, a sophomore, will be used at right fullback. Ivy Cook is competing for time at midfielder. McNeil England works at right center back. Katie -Noell Steed should see action at right wing or goal keeper.
Juli DiPaolo is the lone freshman on the squad. She will fight for time at center forward.
Eighth grader Leggett Steed is being used at left wing. Bailey Wilkinson works at left center back and midfielder. Cassie Ingram is a candidate at right wing and left fullback.
Seventh grader Kennedy Snyder is competing for playing time at left fullback. Olivia Lane works at right center back and left fullback. Grace Gober will be used at left wing and left fullback.
2013 Kirk Academy
4-at Bayou; 8-at Magnolia Heights; 14-Manchester; 15-at Immanuel; 20-at Indianola; 22- Immanuel; 28-at Clarksdale Lee.
2-at Marshall; 9-Indianola; 11-at Manchester; 16-Clarksdale Lee; 17-at Pillow; 18-Bayou; 23-Marshall.
1-First Round Playoffs; 3-Second Round Playoffs; 5- Championship Game.
All home games will be at 4 p.m. with the exception of the Marshall Academy game Sept. 23. It will be at 5 p.m.