Coach Keita shares his knowledge
LAGRANGE – He hustled all over the field, encouraging the players, offering advice and instruction, and just doing what he does best.
When he’s on a soccer field, Keita Placide is at home.
Placide, who has been LaGrange High’s soccer coach for 10 years, has been offering a youth soccer camp for about that same amount of time, and it’s something that brings him a lot of joy, and it’s something he’s passionate about.
For Placide, after all, there’s no better better place to be than on the grass, teaching the sport he loves so much.
“It’s like home,” Placide said. “It’s like everything falls in place naturally when you’re on the field, especially in the summertime when the weather is nice.”
This year’s camp, which is for boys and girls ages 5 to 18, kicked off on Monday evening at the Chris Joseph Soccer Complex on Whitesville Road, and it will run through Friday.
The campers were split up between multiple fields, and Placide kept them on the go during their three hours on the field.
Placide said many of the young players have been to the camp before, or have worked with him through the Troup County Titans, and he can see the progress they’ve made.
“Some of these kids have been working with me for the last couple of years,” Placide said. “They’re finally getting the concept of movement of the ball.”
Among those helping out with the camp are some of Placide’s former players, including Qua Tucker, who is heading into his second season on the LaGrange College soccer team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Tucker said. “And it’s fun being back on the field, getting to be out here watching the little kids, and watching coach Keita again.”
Placide said he appreciates having men who played for him coming back and assisting him on the field.
“You’re looking at Qua and (Nolan) Free, and they both played under me,” Placide said. “And they’re coming back to help at my camp as well. So again, you have them coming back around, which is really awesome.”
Tucker and Free are two of the outstanding players who Placide has coached during his now now decade-long stint as the head of LaGrange’s boys’ soccer program.
Placide was born in the country of Trinidad and Tobago, and he ended up coming to the United States to play college soccer, and he had a tremendous run at Cumberland college.
After giving professional soccer a try for a few years, he began his coaching career in 2003 when he was an assistant coach at LaGrange College.
In 2006, he became the head coach at LaGrange High, a position he has held ever since.
Placide, who turns 40 next year, said he has started to contemplate life after coaching, but for the moment he loves being the LaGrange High coach.
“That’s in the future,” Placide said about a possible change. “Especially in the soccer world, every two, three years, coaches switch out. I’m still here, and I love it.”
Placide, who teaches history at LaGrange High, has enjoyed tremendous success as a head coach, winning a handful of region championships, and in 2014 he led a team to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
The 2016 was a difficult one, though, with LaGrange coming up short in its bid to make it to the state playoffs.
Placide said on the heels of that disappointment, coming out to the camp was a nice change of pace.
“After having a brutal season, there’s nothing like coming out and hanging out with the younger ones now,” Placide said. “It’s like almost therapy being out on the field.”
Placide said he and the returning players on the LaGrange soccer team are committed to getting things turned around next spring.
The team has a number of activities scheduled this summer, including a team camp at the University of Alabama-Birmingham later this month.
“It’s basically team building, and getting them together, and hopefully in the future we’ll have a good team,” Placide said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports