CHAPMANVILLE — Chapmanville Regional High School has a fine soccer complex, the shared Tiger Stadium Field Turfed facility with the school’s football team.
Chapmanville has some soccer players ready to go and they have a team which is forming.
Now, the Tigers officially have their first ever soccer coach.
And that man is Greg Dillon.
Dillon was officially hired last week by the Logan County School Board as the first-ever Chapmanville Regional soccer coach.
Chapmanville is the first-ever WVSSAC-sanctioned soccer team in Logan County and will be the pilot program.
“We’re really excited and we’re ready to go,” said Dillon, the father of Chapmanville senior and all-state football player Tanner Dillon. “We have some players, we have our own Facebook page and we have a new logo just for the soccer team. We also have a slogan for our first ever team and that is ‘making history one kick at a time.”
Getting high school soccer in Logan County was a long time coming.
All the surrounding counties have had prep soccer — and in many cases for quite some time and for many years.
When Chapmanville and other county schools Man and Logan got their high school football stadiums turfed last summer that helped speed up the process of getting a team, Dillon said. It’s still unclear if Logan or Man will be fielding teams this fall, however.
“We started conditioning Monday and the interest is high. The kids are pumped,” Dillon said. “This is exciting and there’s a first for everything. The kids will be making history and they are feeling the magic. The kids are happy and working hard to have a program.”
Also helping pave the way for the CRHS team is the Chapmanville-based Coalfield Youth Soccer League, which has allowed area boys and girls the chance to learn the world’s sport.
“We’ve had the Coalfield Youth Soccer League and that has been up and running for eight or nine years,” Dillon said. “We also had my league that I had for a couple of years. We felt that it was about time for us to start a high school soccer team.”
Dillon said he played some soccer when he lived in Florida.
“I played some soccer in the 1980s in Florida in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area,” Dillon said. “There were some real fast experienced players there. In soccer you have to have skills but it’s also about having fun. My son Tanner played some and my daughter Kelly played for Scott High School. Tanner then went to Chapmanville and was a goalie and a wing for five or six years in the Rec League. That’s where he developed a lot of his kicking skills which he transferred over to football at Chapmanville.”
Chapmanville will be fielding a co-educational soccer team in its first year as the squad will be open to both boys and girls but will compete in the boys’ division.
“That’s what we want to do. There’s several co-ed teams in West Virginia,” Dillon said. “We’re playing a co-ed varsity schedule and we will also have some JV games just for the girls. We’re going to make sure that the girls will have a voice.”
In future years if there’s enough players, Dillon said the girls will end up splitting off into their own team.
Since everything will all be new for the Tigers putting together a first-year program, the team expects to have some growing pains.
“There will be several challenges,” Dillon said. “First, the kids are not used to it and everything will be new. I’ll have to be the Pied Piper of soccer. The parents are happy to have a team. It’s a win/win situation for us. Scott High School assistant coach Rodney Miller has also helped me out a lot. Scott has a very good program but it took them awhile to get there. Their first year they won one game. The second year they won two games. They then won the sectional last year. Mingo Central went a couple of years without a win. Charleston Catholic, which is the elite program in the state and a program which has won two or three state championships, went five years without a win.”
Facilities won’t be an issue for Chapmanville since they have the turfed Tiger Stadium. They have two goals and the soccer lines are already stitched into the carpet.
It’s all good to go.
“We have three great turfed fields in Logan County at Chapmanville, Man and Logan,” Dillon said. “The Rec Center also has a grass field. With the possibility of getting middle school soccer we’re going to have to find new places to play. There could be a lot of games going on. It will be something that will be coming that we will have to make work.”
Dillon said interest has been high with the new soccer team.
“Several kids are interested and we’ve had as many as 40. But when some of them found out that they had to run and condition that knocked it down to 20,” Dillon said. “But those numbers are fluctuating. Right now, conditioning is not manditory. They can come if they want to. We’ve got some good players already that we are looking at. We’ve got a couple of eighth-graders who will be freshmen in the fall that are looking really good.”
Dillon said he plans on taking full advantage of the WVSSAC’s three-week June summer practice period in which all teams are allowed to practice.
“That begins on June 13 I think,” he said. “We’re going to be sharing the stadium with the football team. We’ve already discussed field use and talent sharing if there are any players that might like to play both sports.”
With the artificial turf field conditions won’t be a problem.
In the past, that was one of the main issues and concerns about having a soccer program.
With middle school football, JV football, Midget League Football and high school football all sharing Tiger Stadium, the grass often was beat up and the fall rains turned the field to mud by the first of October.
“There will be no field maintenance needed here,” Dillon said. “On turf we are good to go.”
Logan and Man still do not officially have high school soccer teams.
“We’re hoping that Logan does get a team. I know they have posted the job for the coaching position,” Dillon said. “Man just may not have the numbers to have a team. The board asked me what I needed for soccer to succeed since we were to be a pilot program. I told them I wanted it in Logan and Man and feeder programs at the middle schools. Logan already has a jump in athletic talent. Basketball players such as Dino Noe and Joey Vincent and the twins and several football players are working on cardio and footwork and are playing. Whatever coaches use soccer to enhance and develop their programs will be ahead of the pack.”
Dillon said Chapmanville Regional High School principal Kathy Moore, Chapmanville Athletics Director George Barker and CRHS assistant principal and baseball coach Eric Ellis have all been very helpful in the school getting a soccer team.
“We want to thank them very much,” Dillon said.
The Tigers are scheduled to play their first ever soccer match in late August.
Dillon said Chapmanville will be hosting a preseason Soccerama Aug. 13 at Tiger Stadium. Lincoln County and Mingo Central will also be taking part.
If Logan and Man end up having teams they will also be participating, Dillon said.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).