Three years ago, if you were a Bright Elementary student or lived in the Bright Local School District and wanted to play soccer, your only options were to be outsourced to either Sardinia, Hillsboro or other options that were far away from your home. At the time, the local elementary school had no soccer fields and no open plans were being made to change the status quo.
In early 2020, two teachers, Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe, had some ambitious dreams. They both grew up playing soccer locally and wanted to have soccer at their school. Through hard work, determination and lots of patience they quietly worked behind the scenes to establish a SAY soccer program for Whiteoak. The duo was aided by local leaders, school administrators and parents in the community who wanted to band together for the common cause. They did not have an easy road ahead of them.
They had to persevere through multiple questions including: How to create soccer fields from nothing? How to pull together funds in time for the fall season? Would there even be enough kids that would want to play during a pandemic?
Over time, Pollard and Noe kept working and with generous help from the community the Whiteoak Youth Soccer program was officially created. Registration papers went home with the students to join. The forms came back and blew away all expectations with over 100 kids wanting to play from a school of about 400 youth. Multiple teams were created. Due to the later creation of the organization, they were unable to host home games as the deadline for the creation and training of local referees had passed. All of the teams and coaches had a great year. Due to the pandemic there were no SAY State Tournaments in 2020.
There was something in the air after the first year’s outing. People were excited about the Wildcats and knew bigger and better things were to come: more fields, actual time to create and train a team of referees for the ability to host home games, and the creation of stylish merchandise. When the paperwork went out with the students, the return for this year was over 150 students, from preschool to seventh grade, wanting to play soccer (about one-third of the school).
The 2021 soccer season was ready to begin.
The season consisted of a young group of 3- to 4-year-old Starters, five Instructional teams, three Passers teams (two boys and one girls), four Wings teams (two girls and two boys), and two Strikers teams (one boys and one girls). All the players and coaches had a lively and upbeat season with the girls strikers team, coached by Steve McMullen, being the runner-up in their division and the boys passers 1 team becoming the champions in their local divisions.
The local tournaments rolled out in October and were quickly followed by the 40th annual Ohio Area State Tournament. The Wildcats sent two teams to the state tournament: the boys strikers, coached by Ryan Pollard and Chad Arey; and the boys passers 1 team, coached by Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe. The first weekend, both teams won their games, with the strikers winning 4-0 in the first round and 9-1 in the second round. The passers won 2-0 in the first round and 4-0 in the second round.
The next weekend consisted of the Elite 8 competitors, where the teams would play one game Saturday and then have a doubleheader final four and finals games to determine the champion of each division. It was this weekend that the strikers fell to their opponents 3-2. The passers won their Saturday game in a dramatic double overtime with the score of 1-0. On Sunday, the passers won their first game 3-0 to advance to the championship game for the passers division. In the final game the boys ended with a victory by a score of 5-0.
The passers team finished the year undefeated, unscored on in the state tournament, and secured a state championship for a soccer program in just its second year.
“The Whiteoak Youth Soccer program would like to take this time to thank every single person who has had a hand in this program in the last two years,” a news releases said. “We are nothing without you. Thank you to the coaches, volunteers, parents, school administrators, students, and all of our fans for an amazing year. We look forward to what year three will bring. Go Wildcats!”
Members of the strikers team were: Gabriel Michael, Rowan Roades, Jude Michael, Kyler Chaney, Lucas Pollard, Konner Arey, Evan Richmond, Keaton Smith, Christopher Wessner, Carson Hart, Sam Martin, Weston Kibler and Karson Arey.
Members of the boys passers team were: Ethan Brill, Ryker Geddes, Trace Fitzgerald, Porter Sutter, Brandon Turner, Grayson Kibler, Max Pollard, Landry Lucas, Rayden Gibson, Greyson Whitt, Zane Pniewski and Ezekiel Noe.
Submitted by Robert Noe, Whiteoak youth soccer instructional coach.