New Brockton High School will field a boys and girls soccer team for the first time in school history when the Gamecocks and Lady Gamecocks face off against Eufaula on Feb. 8.
Back in January of 2019 New Brockton principal Alonzo Barkley announced to an auditorium full of NBHS underclassmen that soccer would be coming to the school in 2020.
“I think in a school setting the more course offerings you have is great for the students but also the more athletics and extra curricular activities you can offer the students is great, too,” Barkley said at the time. “It’s another way to draw kids in and get them to school and continue to mentor them and build them up physically, mentally and emotionally. Sports do a lot of great things for kids and the fewer you have, the more you’re limiting who participates.”
Since then dozens of girls and boys student athletes have shown interest and tried out for the soccer program, with the Gamecocks being led by David Bourne and the Lady Gamecocks coached by Micki McKenna.
Bourne – a former member of the United States Army – has played soccer his whole life and he also has experience being the part of the first-time program. Bourne was a member of Enterprise High School’s inaugural soccer team in 1998.
“I saw that there was a need here for it and we had the ability to help out, so I went for it,” Bourne said of becoming the first Gamecock soccer coach.
When Bourne was the military he had the opportunity to play against semi-pro teams overseas – including those in South Korea – that made a lasting impact on him.
“I was a more defensive minded player in high school but when I played overseas – as a part of the military – in several different places I became much more offensive and attacking minded seeing the field differently. That was huge for me.
It was a great experience playing in Korea because you got to see a bunch of different styles of play, especially there with the smaller, more fast-paced players. A lot different than you see here or in the European leagues.”
Bourne said his Gamecocks will have a mix of bigger, stronger soccer players and some of the smaller, quicker players that he thinks will help them have an edge against other teams.
With the youth of the program also comes youth in experience for players. The Gamecocks will field just one senior, two juniors and two sophomores in 2020 with the rest of the team being freshmen and eighth graders. Because of that he and assistant coach Keith Simmons will be looking to his trio of upperclassmen to lead the way.
Those underclassmen are expected to be senior Ryder Tetreault and juniors German Zepeda and Jacob Bustamante.
“Ryder Tetreault hasn’t played soccer in a few years but he’s one of those guys that will have to be a leader for us,” Bourne said. “I’m impressed with him in all facets. When you talk about a ‘true athlete,’ that’s him.
“He could play anything and pick it up quickly. No matter what I tell him to do or how to do something he picks it up.”
Tetreault – who is also a starting defensive back for the Gamecock football team – was formerly a member of the Enterprise JV when he went to EHS as an eighth grader.
“He’s tall and fast and really can do a lot of different things for us,” Bourne said. “He can cut lanes off and track balls down really quickly. He’s good at everything and really he’s just impressed me a lot, especially with his leadership qualities as a young man.”
Like Tetreault, Bustamante is a former EHS Wildcat having played for the EHS JV team the past three seasons before moving to New Brockton last year.
“He’s a great player and a great athlete,” Bourne said. “Jacob has a rocket for a leg. The ball just comes off like a rocket and his shot is tough to stop.”
Bourne said that Zepeda was very similar in nature to Bustamante, giving the Gamecocks another weapon.
“This is his first year here and he’s just brilliant with the ball,” he said. “He has a rocket leg like Jacob and they can both dribble and make good defenders miss. Both of them also see the field really well to make plays.”
Bourne pointed to those upperclassmen as players that will help he and Simmons get the younger players ready.
“Those three are my guys that I’m looking to,” he emphasized. “Those guys will be key for me because they can really help explain to the other guys what they need to do and what we’re trying to do.”
With a first year program, Bourne knows there will be growing pains but he has simple expectations for his first year.
“I expect them to get better every day because if they don’t then I’m not doing my job,” he said. “That’s just the way I look at it, and that doesn’t mean necessarily winning every game.
“That means getting better as players and understanding the game more and being better teammates and better young men.”
Bourne said that his military background – as well as his career in soccer – has led him to lean on teamwork and everything he preaches about being a good teammate.
“Everything is about a team and the guy standing next to you in the military and that’s huge for me,” he said. “My guys know that. You win as a team and you lose as a team.”
Bourne also said that a big goal for him is instilling a winning mindset in his Gamecocks.
“I’d love to win every game and I’m of the belief that we can win every game, and that’s the mindset these guys have to have, too,” he emphatically said. “Every team has to have that belief if you’re going to win.”
McKenna has coached soccer in Alabama, Colorado and Kansas and said that she is excited to be New Brockton’s first Lady Gamecock soccer coach.
“When we first came to New Brockton my kids were a little disappointed that we didn’t have soccer,” McKenna said. “They started talking about bringing (soccer) to the school a few years ago and this summer they asked me if I would be interested in coaching and I was like ‘right on.’
“To say we were able to be a part of the inaugural and help bring success is so great, and it means a lot to have soccer here now. The 20 girls we have on our roster wouldn’t be playing another sport and just to offer another sport is so big for the students.”
McKenna pointed to Brynna Smith, Briana Peterson, JJ Guievara and Lexi Adkison as players she thinks can step up and be leaders in the first year.
“Brynna Smith brings a lot of experience to our team and Briana Peterson is really fast and has good ball handling skills and will be a good striker,” she said. “J is quick and is a good defender, and Lexi is fierce and a quick defender, too.”
While New Brockton won’t be eligible for the playoffs in its first year, McKenna says she wants to build a solid foundation for future seasons.
“The goal for this season is to make sure our program is successful,” she emphasized. “Coach Bourne and I have been working close with the school and they have been great buying us new equipment and everything.
“We want to make New Brockton proud. We can’t go to region or to state but I think we’ll be able to build a good foundation for the future.”