Natchez to field boys and girls soccer teams

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2000

After kicking the idea around during its inaugural co-ed soccer season in 1999, Natchez High School will join Cathedral this year in offering separate girls and boys soccer teams.

&uot;The kids at Natchez are very enthusiastic, very dedicated,&uot; said Peter Rinaldi, who will coach the Natchez boys team after working as an assistant coach with Cathedral’s co-ed team last year. &uot;If they have the same team spirit I saw last year, and if their skills continue to improve, I think we can make some things happen.&uot;

Because of his connections with Cathedral, Rinaldi was able to schedule four games between the teams.

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&uot;That’s good for the kids and the parents, who won’t have to travel as far,&uot; he said. &uot;We really want to try to get more parents and family involved. Everybody likes a good home crowd.&uot;

Rinaldi understands the challenge faced by a new team in a second-year program.

&uot;I have mixed expectations,&uot; he said. &uot;I want to win every game, but I have a team in which more than half of the kids have never played competitive soccer before.&uot;

The girls team, headed up by last year’s Natchez assistant soccer coach Dana Benson, faces that problem and more.

While the boys team has already had 36 players sign up for next Wednesday’s try-outs, the girls team has had less than 18, the bare minimum number of players Benson wants for the squad.

&uot;We will have a team,&uot; Benson said. &uot;I’d like to fill it with high school girls, but I’ll use middle school girls if I have to.&uot;

Both teams will have a handful of returning starters from last year, and some players have gained experience in the Natchez Youth Soccer Organization, which holds games every Sunday.

&uot;Natchez has a strong football, basketball, baseball tradition,&uot; Rinaldi said. &uot;What we’re trying to do here at Natchez High is expose kids to the game of soccer.&uot;

The way has been made somewhat easier by a very supportive school district and faculty, Rinaldi said.

&uot;Everyone has been very supportive,&uot; he said. &uot;The district has been behind us and they want us to succeed.

&uot;All I have to do is win,&uot; he added. &uot;If I don’t, I’ll be crying in my Diet Coke, but we’ll have a good time regardless.&uot;