Coach hoping to build Tyrone junior high boys soccer

Last fall, the Tyrone Area Junior High School boys soccer program was forced to cancel its season because of a lack of numbers.

Eric Oliver, the program’s new coach hired in May, is determined not to let that happen again.

Oliver wants to get the word out to seventh and eighth-graders in both the Tyrone Area and Bellwood-Antis School Districts — because the two schools are involved in a soccer co-op arrangement — that a junior high school boys soccer program will be available for them this fall.

Ten players — nine from Tyrone and one from Bellwood — have already signed up for the program, and Oliver is hoping to recruit several more.

“We’re trying to get the word out there,” Oliver said. “They have had a junior high boys soccer program in place for several years, but last year, they lost some boys to football, and they weren’t able to get the numbers to field a soccer team. This year, we have 10 players right now, and if I get the OK (from the athletic administration), I’m going to roll with 10. But I’d like to get three or four more players out for the team, to give us three or four subs on the sideline for the games.

“We’re trying to rebuild (the program),” Oliver said. “Nine of the boys we have out are from Tyrone and only one is from Bellwood. So I’m trying to reach out to the Bellwood area and pull some more kids out of Bellwood.”

Tyrone athletic director Luke Rhoades, like Oliver, feels that the junior high program in soccer, like it does in other sports, provides a good foundation for the varsity program.

“The one thing that we have done over the last several years at Tyrone is to add a lot of junior high athletic programs,” Rhoades said. “That’s very important for the junior high programs, and for the community as a whole. Having a feeder for the varsity programs is definitely very important.”

The Tyrone junior high team will play a 16-game Mountain League schedule this fall, with eight home games and eight on the road.

“I think the junior high program is imperative to get the players junior high experience and get them prepared for varsity soccer,” Oliver said.

Players who are interested in joining the team should call the Tyrone Area High School athletic office at 684-4240, ext. 378.

“We’d like to get our junior high numbers up to 15 to 20 because that is going to be very important in supporting the varsity program over the next couple years,” Rhoades said.

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