Lincoln soccer starting inaugural season ‘on the right foot’
LINCOLN—Lincoln High School’s Rob Austin had never been a head coach before. Then again, many of the Lincoln soccer team had never played soccer before. Together, they have Lincoln off to a strong start in the first year of the team’s history.

Despite no head coaching experience, Austin had plenty of experience on the playing field and served as an assistant coach for the football team earlier this school year. A graduate of Fort Payne High School, Austin played football, soccer and golf for his high school teams and went on to become the starting left tackle at Troy during his senior season. After earning a degree in business, Austin found himself back in the school setting as a teacher of Business Education and as a coach.

“I’ve always had a passion to get back into coaching, particularly football, which kind of led to soccer,” Austin said. “I grew up playing soccer my whole life. They asked me if I wanted to be the head coach. At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and I’ve really enjoyed it ever since. It’s been really fun. I guess I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed soccer. It’s been a pleasure working with this team so far.”

Having played sports with other male athletes, Austin had a pretty good idea of what to expect when coaching football players earlier in the year. However, being the coach of a girls’ team has been a new experience, one that has been overwhelmingly positive for him.

“I guess I’ve just been blessed with an amazing group of girls really,” Austin said. “Every girl out there is a hard worker. They’re all excited to be out there. They’ve made my job pretty easy. I didn’t know how I would handle coaching girls. I’ve never done it before. But they’ve been really easy to deal with. From day one to where we are today has just been light years. They’ve improved tremendously and I’ve been very pleased and impressed with how we’re progressing. It’s been fun so far.”

One of the leaders for the team is senior forward Leia Brown, who has played soccer since she was 4 years old. She has enjoyed the program’s first year so far this season.

“It’s been really fun,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed working with these girls. We’ve come a long way since we started the program. Since this is our first year and I’m one of the few that’s played before, I’ve had to take a lot of them under my wing. They’ve been really enthusiastic about learning. So, it’s been fun.”

Brown managed the impressive hat trick—three goals scored in one game—in the team’s first win of the season at Childersburg in February. Not only that, but Brown also put herself in the Lincoln history books prior to that feat.

“It was pretty exciting to know I have the first goal in the history of Lincoln soccer,” Brown said.

Quite simply, she enjoys soccer because it is the sport she loves the most and loves being around her teammates, as she also considers them to be her friends.

Austin said a plan was already in place to build a soccer program by the time he arrived at the school.

“It was really kind of started up before I even got here,” he said. “When they were interviewing me, Mr. (Principal Terry) Roller asked if I had previous experience playing other sports. I told him I played soccer and I guess last summer they had plans to start a girls’ soccer team. Apparently, there was some interest from some of the community. Obviously, I’m glad it’s happened because so far we’ve had really good turnouts with the fans at home games and everybody really seems to be supporting it.”

According to Austin, students have already approached him in the hallways wanting to know if there will be a team next year. The enthusiasm he speaks of is apparent in his players. One such example is junior goalkeeper Kayla Ramsay.

“For our first year, it’s been tough at practice. We’ve had a lot of tough practices but in the end it all comes out and we all work together as a team and work our best,” she said. “It’s fun. I love this sport.”

Austin still maintains lofty goals for this season, but will be satisfied with his team no matter the final result, as long as they maintain the hard work and intense effort he has seen from them so far this season.

“My goal would be for us to win area,” he said. “Donoho appears to be the opponent we have to worry the most about, and we played a pretty tight game with them the other night. We get to play them again on our schedule and we’ve got two games against Sacred Heart. I really have a strong desire to compete for the Area Championship and possibly find a way to work ourselves into a play-off. That would be amazing. No matter what happens, as long as the girls continue to put forth the effort that they have all year, it’s a victory no matter what. They’ve done a great job of getting this program started off on the right foot and I think it’s got nowhere to go but up from here because there’s a lot of interest and a lot of support.”

© 2013