By Joseph Garcia
After years of discussion, soccer will be added to the list of varsity sports offered at Liberty Hill High School beginning in fall of 2014.
On Monday, the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees approved positions for a teacher/soccer coach for both boys and girls programs. Liberty Hill Junior High basketball coach Kelsey Quinn was named the new LHHS girls’ soccer coach. And Adam Stagman, former girls’ soccer coach at Fort Bend Willowridge, will be the new boys soccer coach.
There will be class periods for both boys and girls soccer. The program will begin to form this season, but will not officially be a varsity sport until fall 2014. Until then, the new soccer program will scrimmage and play local opponents.
Currently, Lampasas, Gatesville and Brownwood have soccer teams and Burnet is considering adding the sport this fall as well.
“I think it’s the next thing in line,” said Liberty Hill Athletic Director Jerry Vance. “The UIL has made it a 3A sport in the next realignment, so rather than wait until the next realignment to get started, we thought we’d put the program together next year and hit the ground running when we can. This has been something we’ve been working on trying to put together for four or five years. It’s one of those things that just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Coach Quinn makes the move from LHJH where she coached girls’ basketball and taught math. Having been in Liberty Hill, she is familiar with the community and its athletes.
LHISD also decided to bring in Adam Stagman, who has seven years of experience as the head girls’ soccer coach at Willowridge High School (4A), where he also taught math.
“(Coach Stagman) started the soccer program at (Willowridge),” Vance said of the hire. “We thought he was a prime candidate with his teaching field to begin the program with the boys.”
The news that Liberty Hill will add soccer as a varsity sport was welcomed by Richard Marshall, president of the Liberty Hill Youth Soccer Association.
“This is great news,” Marshall said. “Soccer is a big sport in our little community. The Liberty Hill Youth Soccer Association is in full support of this decision.”
Marshall believes high school soccer and the LHYSA will assist one another when it comes to the players, and more people will get to participate.
Since the UIL soccer calendar has practices beginning at the end of November and has games scheduled from January to April, the recreational soccer league should help players prepare for the upcoming season, Marshall said.
“The LHYSA will continue to provide recreational soccer to anyone who wants to play and we look forward to watching our best players represent our community in Liberty Hill Panthers soccer games,” he said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved the expansion of the LHHS tennis program. At the new high school campus there will be eight tennis courts — double the number of courts presently.
Details about exactly how the tennis program will expand are still unknown, but the hiring of a full time tennis coach is expected in the near future.
“3A has not had a year-round tennis program and the UIL at the same time that they instituted the soccer program, they made fall tennis a competitive sport for 3A,” Vance said. “We would like to find a full time tennis coach. With that being said…there are certain teaching slots that we have to fill and fitting them into a position is sometimes difficult and you have to be creative in how you do that.”
With LHISD transitioning to a new high school with new athletic facilities, it seemed logical to get the soccer program started and to expand tennis as well. It is a move that Coach Vance said was inevitable.
“Liberty Hill is growing and the school has to keep up with it,” Vance said. “You can’t play marbles all your life. There are other interests out there and if we are able to offer those sports in a competitive way, it’s just the natural progression of things and it’s the way it should be.”