LHS soccer team gears up for season

Published 10:41 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

By Kevin Eckleberry


He’s back where he started.

More than 20 years ago, Shane Pulliam began his soccer coaching career at LaGrange High, and now he has returned to the school to take over the boys’ program.

Pulliam has inherited the job from Keita Placide, who stepped down after 10 years to become the principal at Long Cane Middle School.

Pulliam comes to LaGrange after spending the previous two seasons helping build up the boys’ soccer program at Mountain View High, a Class AAAAAAA school in Gwinnett County.

“It’s kind of where I started,” Pulliam said. “I’ve gone full circle.”

When Pulliam was at LaGrange in 1993, one of the other coaches at the school was Mike Pauley.

Pauley is now LaGrange’s athletics director, and when the soccer job came open, he contacted Pulliam to see if he would be interested.

Pulliam was, and he accepted the job last summer and was able to spend some time with the players during a seven-on-seven soccer league.

“I came in probably in the middle of July,” Pulliam said. “I think I saw three games. I didn’t really jump in and take over everything. I just said all I’m going to do is watch and see what you’re doing, and try to see as many people play as possible. And then when we got to the tournament, I started moving some things around, or come out and say this is what I want to focus on tonight.”

Pulliam was hoping to get the players on the field last week as official preseason practice got started.

Mother Nature had other ideas.

Because of the winter storm, all sports activities, including practices, were canceled from Tuesday through Thursday.

Pulliam was able to get many of the players together on Friday at Callaway Stadium, which is critical since the start of the season is less than two weeks away. With nearly 70 players trying out, Pulliam has to decide which players will be on the varsity squad.

The remainder of the players will be on the junior-varsity team, or a brand new freshman team.

With the addition of a freshman team, and a junior-varsity team, a lot of players will get an opportunity to gain some valuable experience this spring.

“This gives them a chance to get on the field and play,” Pulliam said. “If you carry 23 or 24 on the (varsity) team, it’s hard to get 17 through 24 playing time week in and week out, if you’re playing the kind of schedule you need to develop the starters into being competitive at the varsity level.”

Pulliam brings an impressive coaching resume to LaGrange.

Pulliam built the Whitewater boys’ program into one of the state’s best, and he guided the team to numerous deep state-playoff runs during his time there from 2004 to 2012.

Before that, Pulliam enjoyed tremendous success at Griffin and McIntosh.

In another link to this area, Pulliam started the boys’ program at Troup High in 1994 and remained in that position for two seasons.

Now, Pulliam is eager to help expand on the success the LaGrange boys’ program enjoyed under Placide.

It’s an adjustment for everyone, coach included.

“I’m coming in with some different ideas, and a different way of doing things,” Pulliam said. “Sometimes having a change is a good thing. That’s part of the rest of your life. There are some things I didn’t expect to change that changed abruptly. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. You go through the next door that opens, and you try to embrace that.”