In just four short years, the Whiteoak Youth Soccer Program at Bright Elementary has evolved from its humble beginnings into a powerhouse, achieving remarkable success and garnering well-deserved attention. The Wildcats have not only made a mark on the local soccer scene, but have also clinched two state championships in the past three years.
The journey of the Whiteoak soccer program has been nothing short of extraordinary. The inaugural year was during the 2020 global pandemic. That first year was unique in only consisting of interleague play with no local or state tournament. The Wildcat program has consistently demonstrated its prowess on the field. In particular, the boys teams coached by Ryan Pollard and Chad Arey have been a force to be reckoned with, qualifying for the state tournament in all three years it has been available since the Wildcat program started.
In the 2021 Ohio SAY State Tournament, the Boys Passers (Katie Pollard/Stephanie Noe) and Boys Strikers (Ryan Pollard/Chad Arey) teams secured their spots, with the Passers ultimately claiming the state title. The following year, in 2022, the Boys Wings (Daniel Cox/Jesse Fitzgerald) and Boys Strikers (R. Pollard/Arey), qualified and although the Boys Wings finished in fourth place, their remarkable journey set the stage for what was to come.
Fast forward to the 2023 Ohio SAY State Tournament, which took place in Hamilton. This is the location where the Whiteoak Wildcats showcased their dominance once again. This time not only did the Boys Passers (Sarah Barnes/Taylor Pniewski) and Boys Wings (Katie Pollard/Noe) qualify, but the Girls Strikers (John and Teresa Jolly) and Boys Kickers (Ryan Pollard/Chad Arey) also earned their spots. The Boys Wings, coached by Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe, emerged victorious, going undefeated and securing the title of Ohio SSAY state champions in a nail-biter against friendly rival Leesburg. The Boys Passers claimed third place, and the Boys Kickers finished in a respectable fourth place.
Here is the roster for the 2023 Wings Ohio SAY State Champions: Riker Dailey, Ryker Edmisten, Trace Fitzgerald, Jaxon Gasche, Rayden Gipson, Rylee Gray, Grayson Kibler, Landry Lucas, Ezekiel Noe, Maxwell Pollard, Brandon Turner, Ezekiel, Trace, Landry, Max, Rayden, Brandon and Grayson were a part of the core that previously won the 2021 Passers Ohio Say State Championship.
The success of the two state champion teams is a testament to the dedication and skill of both players and coaches. Both of the state championship teams were coached by Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe, both fifth-grade teachers at Bright Elementary, have not only shaped young minds in the classroom but have also nurtured a championship-winning soccer team. Their commitment to excellence, teamwork and passion for the sport have undoubtedly played a significant role in the team’s triumph.
Robert Noe is secretary of the Whiteoak Youth Soccer Program.