New Middlesboro boys’ soccer coach Mike Collett is focused on building a winning tradition for the Yellow Jackets.
“We’re hoping to make a pretty solid little program here,” he said before Tuesday’s practice. “Last year coach (Aaron) Sowders did a fine job with them and we’re hoping to expand from that base and make it bigger. Hopefully down the road we’ll be able to compete in this region.”
While Middlesboro has been fielding a soccer team for years, the boys’ program has never really built up steam to compete consistently with neighboring programs like Corbin, North Laurel and South Laurel.
Collett plans to start changing that. He has a background in a football where he coached for the Cumberland Gap Middle School program. He said he started coaching soccer when his children began playing the sport.
“I’ve been coaching in AYSO for about the last 10 years. This past year I actually took a team to the national games. This is one of the first times a team from Harrogate made it to the Nationals and we took four different teams this year,” he said.
Harrogate’s AYSO organization had under 14, under 12 and under 10 girls teams make it to Nationals along with an under 12 boys team.
Collett added that Middlesboro has a strong tradition in most other sports and wants to see that carry over to the soccer program.
“I can see that soccer is picking up around here. It’s a popular sport the world around and the interest is getting here.”
With an offense-first philosophy, Collett’s teams should be involved in plenty of high-scoring games. He plans to use a 3-4-3 lineup with the defenders and midfielders moving into attacking positions as often as possible.
“Now we’re sure to give up some goals, but it’s like Steve Spurrier used to say: If you can put up enough points, then the other team’s not going to be able to score enough to beat you,” Collett said.
The Jacket soccer team started practicing this week with eight players and Collett is anxious to get more players out on the field in the coming weeks as school year draws closer.
“We’ve got five guys that are returning seniors this year and they’re pumped up and ready to play. We’ve got a few others returning and I’m excited about getting them together with some new players,” Collett said. “I really think we can surprise some people this year.”
Middlesboro opens the season at South Laurel on Aug. 16.