New faces, new success

New soccer coaches play fundamental roles in team success

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New faces, new success

Photo Illustration

Photo Illustration

Photo by Cade

Photo Illustration

Photo by Cade

Photo by Cade

Photo Illustration

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

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After multiple not-so-successful years, two new coaching positions have been filled and many new winning trophies have been received.

As a new addition for the lady tigers, Hillary Cloud assumes the position of head coach for the girls varsity team after being a personal trainer and coach of women’s soccer at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Another new position to the tigers, Zak McCarthy, punches his ticket as assistant coach for the boys varsity team.

Comprised of a mere six upperclassmen, the girls’ varsity team is largely made up of freshman and sophomores, giving the team and the new head coach plenty of room to improve and grow before the entirety of the team graduates.

“We are young and have so much natural talent,” Cloud said. “I think my favorite part is to be able to watch the girls grow as teammates.”

The boys’ varsity is another young team, making the upperclassmen the minority. However, struggles are not yet visible as the new assistant coach aids the team into opening the season with a 6-5-2 start.

“I have a special group of young men that have already made history on the field,” McCarthy said. “There’s just so much talent on the team. It’s a pleasure to be their coach and I can’t wait to see what they can achieve.”

From the moments she could walk, soccer has been a fundamental part of coach Cloud’s life. She played from the age of five to her fourth year in college. Being an alumni of Texas High School, Cloud spent her years of college as a Mississippi College Choctaw.

“I remember my parents taking me to watch the NCAA Division 1 Final Four tournament,” Cloud said. “That is what sparked the interest in me to continue playing after high school.”

Also having a background as a college athlete, McCarthy knows the life of a dedicated soccer player. However, being captain of his college team was not even his most impressive feat, as he went on to get signed to two English Premier Leagues. After his time in the UK, he came to Texarkana to be the assistant coach at Texas A&M University-Texarkana until he graduated this past May.

“I’ve played my whole life; I was a captain for my college team,” McCarthy said. “I’ve had a crazy career so far, from being nationally ranked for saves in college to winning a national championship back in the UK.”

Although soccer is the most popular sport in the world, everyone’s origin story is different. Every player tells a different story, from born talent to underdog experience. McCarthy and Cloud are no exception to the fact.

“Playing soccer in college, I witnessed my first ever female coach,” Cloud said. “She was a mentor on and off the field. I realized how she kept her soccer career going after her playing days, and it was then I knew I really wanted to pursue a career in coaching women’s soccer.”

Growing up in a completely different environment, McCarthy was practically destined to be a part of the game. Since he was raised in England, his life revolved around the sport and he was able to witness soccer players earn their right to the fame and glory on the highest level.

“It’s part of the culture back home; you can’t help wanting to be a part of that and share that passion,” McCarthy said. “[The game] is a language in itself and it’s one spoken all around the world. I’m passionate about it because it’s so complex yet can be played so stunningly well and seem so effortless.”

Arriving at Texas High, both coaches made goals and set expectations and as of this moment, they are extremely effective on both sides of the ball.

“I tell the girls I want to be playing on my birthday which would mean we have made it to the regional quarterfinals,” Cloud said. “That is our goal for the season: to make it multiple rounds into the playoffs.”

Through pain, hardship, and calamity, McCarthy has plentiful faith in the team he has aided in shaping.

“Soccer requires so much physical and mental strength,” McCarthy said. “But through soccer, I want to make the players not only better players, but also better versions of themselves.”