By Bryan Davis
West Point soccer is on the rise.
The Green Wave program may be young, but it is one that is developing each time the players hit the field.
Head coach Keith Manning is also a football coach for the Green Wave, and he wants to transmit what makes that program successful to his own.
“We have to build off our football program,” said Manning, whose boys team beat Choctaw Central on Thursday and narrowly got defeated by district rival Saltillo on Saturday. “We have to take their ideas and success and carry it over into other programs.”
The girls are the youngest of the two teams, with most of them being freshmen and sophomores.
“I’d like to finish off with a win for the girls,” Manning said of the team. “A lot of our girls just have to learn how to play soccer. That’s going to take more consistency and time.”
Short term, Manning says that it’s all about getting the kids educated on playing the game. Long term, he sees program built around consistency in winning.
“We have to start working with the kids when they’re younger,” Manning said.
That’s something that will be easier, since the city is starting a U2 Division II soccer league in West Point.
“That will probably help us in our feeder program,” he said.
Soccer is sport that has been growing in popularity over the years in the Golden Triangle area. Recently, interest has gained momentum in West Point, through the city’s youth soccer program, and now the high school’s rebuilding program.
Manning says that soccer is a sport that can help athletes from just about any other sport.
“It helps field goal kickers, defensive backs and running backs,” Manning said of football. “If you’re a lineman, it helps with your footwork.”
Manning said that even though basketball and soccer are played in the same season, he has no problem with his kids playing both.
As for the program right now, Manning said that his kids are learning fast, and he has gotten a lot of support from the parents and the athletics program at West Point/
The soccer teams will be back in action on Saturday, as they hit the road to take on Kosciusko. On Tuesday, they will play district rival Saltillo again, and they will square off against division contestant New Hope a week from Friday.