Jemison Soccer Team Off to Good Start

The first home game of the season for Jemison High School’s soccer team was a 4-1 loss to Chelsea, but the players and coaches involved with the team still think they’re off to a good start.

This year’s team marks the first for the school, and the program was helped on its way by a $1,000 grant presented by state Sen. Cam Ward on Tuesday, the same day as the game against Chelsea.

And the Panthers won their first game, 2-1 over Marbury on Feb. 10.

“This is very exciting, their first year,” Ward said after presenting the grant, which came from the state’s Education Trust Fund budget. “Obviously, they have a lot of enthusiasm for the program.”

There seems to be support for the program beyond the players. JHS juniors Carlos Paz and David Vazquez said they presented a petition with 160 signatures to Principal Allen Wilson, who agreed to allow the formation of the team.

Paz and Vazquez said they and others tried to get the program started last year, but there was no one available to coach.

Liz Odom has taken on that responsibility. Odom is in her first year at JHS after previously teaching and coaching the soccer team at Fultondale.

“I’m learning as I go because it’s a lot of stuff,” Odom said about starting a program. “I’m excited, and I love all my players.”

Local businessman Martine Maciel expressed interest in helping, so he conducts practices, allowing Odom to focus on organization and paperwork. And Nikki Henley has helped attain sponsorships from local business, such as Jack’s.

There are 21 players on the team, including one girl. The players range from eighth grade to high school seniors.

Some of them grew up playing soccer together at a local park, while others have never played before.

Paz and Vazquez said they’re excited to be playing for the school, despite the hard work it has taken to get to this point.

“Even trying to get the team started was fun,” Paz said.

Vazquez stressed the importance of the players keeping a positive attitude during an inaugural season that will surely have its ups and downs. If the team can do that, Paz said he thinks success will follow.

“We’ve got a good-looking team,” he said.

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