On this week's Coffee Chat, Coffee County Soccer League President Jamie Norris talks about the upcoming fall season, from player numbers and getting more coaches to the refurbishments at the Manchester Soccer Complex.
Norris has been the league's president for two years and has been involved as a coach for 10 years. Norris is also an assistant boys' coach for Coffee County Middle School an officer with the Manchester Police Department.
What is the goal/mission of the league?
Our mission is really to have it available to everybody. As a lot of people may know, our soccer program has grown over the past couple of years and it has a lot to do with the board members, but also the kids, the coaches, everybody that puts in to get the kids to enjoy it, to love the game and then for them to come back.
What is the most satisfying part of working with the league?
For me it would be the progress of seeing a lot of these kids at a young age, one being my son, seeing him progress from a five or six-year old kid, all the way to playing high school soccer now.
A lot of the other kids that he played with and I also coached, just seeing the progression of them growing throughout the years and seeing them grow into young men and young women.
How is the upcoming Fall 2019 season looking?
Registration recently closed. We're looking at having our draft next weekend (Saturday, August 24) and then our first game will be the first Saturday in September (September 7), so it's looking to be really good. We've got a lot of really good things planned for the kids. Not going to ruin a lot of stuff, but again we're starting to put a lot more money back into our program.
The last couple seasons we've done end-of-the-year celebrations where we used to just give out the trophies or medals and let the coaches do whatever they want to. We've gone as far doing parties and drinks, pizza, stuff like that just for the kids to have a big old celebration.
We're looking to expand upon that, maybe giving back a little more to the coaches for their time. We've recently passed some money to set aside to buy coaches gear, bags and stuff like that. Soccer balls, cones, goalie gloves, this is just stuff that we'll provide for coaches stepping up and volunteering to help out.
Are there still coaches needed?
Yes, we are still a few short and it always tends to seem that way every time we get to the draft. We're calling parents to see if they can step up and I think a lot of that has to do with parents maybe being a little hesitant because, "I don't know what to do, I don't know how to coach, I don't know too much about soccer".
But we have all the tools in there. We have a director of coaches, so somebody who can come down to one or two of their practices to help them figure out some things with the kids as far as soccer stuff. I'm always available by phone or down at the fields, one way or another, that if they need help, one of us board members can give some time to them.
How can people reach out and get involved in coaching?
We do have a Facebook account, you can find us on Coffee County Soccer League on Facebook. You can also go to coffeecosoccer.com and that's our website and another way you can get in touch with us. You have my email and my phone number on there, as well as a couple other board members so they can reach out to us any time.
Can you tell us about the refurbishments at the soccer complex?
Bonnie Gamble, who led this whole process of trying to better the sports aspect around here, we approached her as a board not several years ago and spoke to her about this upgrading. She's done a lot of hard work on getting grants and from the last month update I've got, we got everything approved.
We're approved for two lighted fields down there, so both our big fields will lighted hopefully by the end of this year. We'll have a bathroom down there as well, no longer have the porta potties, it would be a large bathroom like what you see at the baseball fields and that's also with the grant. We're hoping by the end of this year we'll have all that stuff down there for the kids.
Are any other refurbishments coming up?
The rec center's recently purchased a real mower which we experimented with the last couple of games last year. This gives us a better playing surface as far as the grass. It allows them to mow the grass a little bit shorter than normal and it also allows the ball to travel a little faster, so it looks really good and they were able to purchase that.
We've put some new sand down. There was a couple bumpy areas, those were all removed this past summer and we've planted new grass so we should have a lot better surface this year as well.
How would you describe the importance of the league?
Speaking with the high school coaches this past year, last year, varsity's beaten Tullahoma, high school JV's beaten Tullahoma and the middle school team beat Tullahoma in the semifinals. That was the first year in a long time that any of the coaches (Harper, Amado) has said that that's ever happened.
That just goes to show that with the right amount of baseline or ground that we're setting here at the rec, those 300 kids turn into 10-20 elite players that we can play that will grow up through our program.
I can say that firsthand that I'm experiencing what the Coffee County Soccer League has laid down because the same kids are growing up through my program now and eventually moving up to the high school. We're showing that we're winning soccer games, we're winning trophies, we're winning championships and it's just a really awesome thing to see that. We just hope to continue that program throughout these many years.