Youth is often used as an excuse in high school athletics. Summit’s boys soccer team views it as a positive headed into their 2013 campaign.
Beginning the program’s second season, and with a student population of only juniors, sophomores, and freshman, coach Kris Schneider feels youth is a big advantage.
“We have one of the biggest advantages of anyone because we don’t lose anybody,” the coach said. “We just keep gaining people.”
The end to the 2012 campaign only raised expectations as a squad of underclassmen were runners up in the District 11-A-AA tournament, advancing to Regionals.
“Our expectations are high. We had a great end to our season last year and we’re hoping to pick up where we left off and keep growing, keep getting better each day.”
A native of Wisconsin, Schneider took a break from the game in college after being a four-year player in high school.
After moving to the area, she became the head coach at Heritage Middle School before coaching Independence’s Junior Varsity team for four years.
Upon the school’s opening, Schneider was hired to head both the girls and boys soccer programs at Summit – Principal Dr. Charles Farmer and Athletic Director Chad Kirby felt strongly that one person lay the foundation for Summit soccer.
After leading the Lady Spartans to a combined record of 13-15-2, Schneider stepped down as girls coach in November.
“I felt like the boys were at a disadvantage because during the girls season is really when our offseason (training) is,” she said. “That’s when we need to be building up muscle, speed, and endurance. I couldn’t do that with them.”
Kacie Horner, a two-year assistant at Summit and a four-year player at Franklin High School, is now the girls head coach.
Choosing between coaching the boys or girls team was not a difficult decision as Schneider has a long history with the boys team.
“Some of these kids, I’ve had since sixth grade,” the coach said. “Now they’re sophomores. We really have a good foundation.”
She added that there is not a big difference between coaching guys and girls – despite the speed of play. In both sports, you are still just coaching the game.
Being a woman coaching a boys sport has had its challenges - not so much anymore from players, as they now understand she knows what she is talking about, but more in district meetings.
While she says her current district has a decent mix of men and women, Schneider looks ahead to Summit’s move to District 11-AAA where they will join Brentwood, Centennial, Franklin, Independence, Ravenwood, and Dickson County.
“They don’t have a female in that district as a coach,” she said. “I will be the only one – which is fine. It really doesn’t bother me. I’m not real quiet or shy.”
With the experience her team has gained by the time they get to 11-AAA, Schneider’s team won’t be shy either.
Featuring a strong sophomore core – including Nate Olsen, Austin Gwinn, Bret Thomas, and Trevor Page – the Spartans look for a strong defense to guide them deep into the season.
“We’ve got to have defense first – stop goals from going in before we work on scoring them,” Schneider said. “That’s our team philosophy.”
Summit looks to better their record with a home game against Forrest High School March 21.