Metropolis, IL

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Junior high-age soccer takes a step forward

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - Updated: 12:14 PM
Galen Shelton
Massac Soccer Boosters recently hired head coaches for their junior high-age programs.
Joanne Wong-Hammonds will lead the girls squad, while Andrew Leonard heads the boys squad this spring season.
The Massac Soccer Boosters Association took another step forward with its junior high-age soccer program — by making the transition to paid head coaches to run these travel-based teams.  
The boosters, who have been operating competitive travel teams at this age-level since the fall of 2013, previously managed these teams with primarily parent and volunteer coaches.  
“The program has matured and players are now at a higher skill level than ever before.   It was just time to also go to the next step with the coaches in order to advance the program and keep things moving forward,” said Troy Lawrence, current president of the Massac Soccer Boosters.  
The girls team is led by a familiar face to junior high sports and to youth soccer with the hiring of Wong-Hammonds, who is also the Massac Junior High’s cross country coach in the fall and has successfully served as youth recreational coach with the Massac teams in previous seasons.  
The boys team is spearheaded by a recent law-school graduate and former collegiate soccer player, Andrew Leonard.  
Leonard recently served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Massac County High School boys team this fall.  
Both head coaches will be soon completing additional advance coaching education, including completing their U.S. Youth Soccer “F” and “E” coaching licenses.  
The boys and girls junior high-age soccer teams play rival teams within the non-school affiliated Southern Illinois Middle School Soccer (SIMSS) League in the spring.  The boosters recently publicly presented to the Massac Unit One school board in January, a “zero-dollar” based proposal for the program to be transitioned to an official school sport at Massac Junior High.  
Additional discussions between sub-committees are planned in order to explore this possibility further.
The home games will be played at the Metropolis Soccer Complex. They include:
• Sunday, April 2 versus Harrisburg: 1:30 p.m. Boys junior varsity; 3 p.m. girls varsity; and 4:30 p.m., boys varsity
• Saturday, April 29 versus Murphysboro: 10:30 a.m. boys junior varsity; noon, girls varsity; and 1:30 p.m., boys varsity
• Sunday, May 7 versus Carterville: 2 p.m., girls varsity
The season ends with the two-day SIMSS championship tournament in Murphysboro on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21.
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