New faces on the T.A. Dugger pitch… Morrell to lead Jr. Lady Cyclone soccer program in 2020-21 season
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
When girls’ soccer starts at T.A. Dugger Middle School in a couple of weeks, there will be a noticeable change as Ethan Gouge has decided to hand the lead reins over to Eddie Morrell who will guide the Jr. Lady Cyclones this season.
Morrell has brought alongside a former Cyclone girls’ soccer player in Samantha McClay Husbands who had an ultra-successful high school career under the guidance of her father, Bill McClay, who is the EHS head soccer coach.
Gouge said the decision was hard but needed.
“Teaching math, coaching two sports, and two kids – it was just one too many things going on,” Gouge said about the move. “It’s a hard decision and a painful decision. I didn’t realize how painful until we started school and the season is here and I realize that I am not doing it.
“It’s for the best. We are bringing more manpower into the program and bringing some good diversity into the program. I am excited because more manpower allows us to do more things and get that much better.
It helps tremendously passing it over to someone that has so much experience.
For Morrell, the move has kicked a new excitement into the head wrestling coach at Elizabethton and also the former Happy Valley High School girls’ soccer head coach.
“I feel blessed honestly,” stated Morrell. “Coach (Travis) Willams told me about the opportunity and I really jumped at it because I am in the best of all possible worlds.
“I get to hold down the fort on a very well built program that has a good number of athletes that are familiar with it and want to play with it and lend what coaching expertise that I do have to bring those athletes forward for another coach that will be able to take them to a far greater level than I ever could.
“It’s an honor and I am really excited about what we are going to be able to do together,” continued Morrell. “These guys (Gouge and Husbands) are going to be working this year whether they know it or not.
“Between the three of us, we are going to make this season the strongest it can be and get it ready.”
Husbands has spent some time coaching in Crossville and still plays indoor and outdoor adult league soccer. She looks forward to lending her knowledge to the T.A. Dugger program.
“I am really excited because we didn’t have middle school soccer when I was here,” Husbands commented. “We played club ball or you didn’t play. I am really excited to see how we can continue to develop and I can feed my dad the best players that I can to make the whole program stronger.”
The program is getting ready to rev up the season as Morrell sent a text blast over the school system website letting girls that have an interest about important upcoming dates and posting signup sheets inside the T.A. Dugger Gymnasium starting Monday.
“We are going to have our skill assessments/tryouts on August 13th and 14th at T.A. Dugger in Brown-Childress Stadium,” Morrell said. “We will assess skills and get to know players and give parents a little bit more of our expectations for the season and what they can expect from us and put together a good combination of athletes and supportive parents and just have a successful season.”
Gouge encouraged any girl that has the interest to come out.
“I will tell the girls as always to come on out because it doesn’t matter if you have played soccer before or not, we can teach them what they need to know,” he said.
Morrell knows the importance of a middle school program to success at the high school level.
“There is nothing more vital to a successful high school program in any sport than to have a great feeder program that proceeds it,” added Morrell. “That’s where you set your expectations for coaching, cohesiveness, for sport, for in-game conduct, for relationships with coaches – that is where all expectations are set.
“By keeping those expectations uniform across your littles, middle school, and on into high school, it makes the pathway to success a whole lot easier for everyone.”