Callaway head coach Mike Petite is breaking records in Hogansville

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, March 30, 2022

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Something special is brewing in Hogansville. The Cavaliers girls and boys soccer teams are rewriting the Callaway history books. The man leading the charge for both teams is head coach Mike Petite.

While not a native of LaGrange, he has been here since 1998. After a long career as an assistant head coach at LaGrange Academy, he was named the head coach for the Callaway High boys’ team for the 2016-17 season. He embarked on his dual role of head coach of the girls’ team just this season.

The boys team has tied the record for most wins in Cavaliers’ history and is likely to break it with a couple games still to go in the regular season. The girls’ team has already broken the wins record.

“This year the teams both collectively and individually have come together,” Petite said. “Every day they enjoy going out to practice and they love competing with each other and against each other. They have fun and when a team can come out there and enjoy what they do, that helps with success. “

The boys team started 7-0-1 and the girls team started 9-0. These hot starts gave the teams some confidence and a lot of positives to build off of.

Ever so humble, Petite credits his assistant coaches Hunter Lee (boys) and Jeff McGuffin (girls) for helping him get these teams to where they are. Petite also credits Shonna Yawn — the girls’ coach before he took over — for building the program into something he could take the baton and run with.

“She had this team set up to be something special, and I’m benefiting from that,” Petite said. “Jeff McGuffin has been here for the past six years and helps bridge that gap as well.”

There was a bit of trepidation for some of the girls on the soccer team when Petite took over. He has a fiery intensity in his coaching style that Yawn did not have.

“I think the girls were afraid at first because they knew my intensity,” Petite said. “They were worried that it was going to be like that, and it has been.”

Despite the initial hesitancy, the girls have bought into his coaching style and have reaped the results.

“There was some hesitancy, but that quickly went away when they did some things that were different for them that they enjoyed,” Petite said. “I was excited to be with them. I’ve coached girls for a long time, and I have two girls that play sports. I’ve been around female athletics for a long time, and I’m passionate about their place alongside men’s sports, so to coach them like I coach the boys is what I feel like would be right.”

Translating his coaching style from the boys team to the girls team has clearly worked as the Cavaliers girls soccer team is 14-2 on the season with their only two losses against powerhouse Bremen. Petite has a motto that his teams should play “hard, fast, and physical” and both his teams have bought into that philosophy this year.

Petite has set a new standard for Callaway soccer this year.

“That’s the trick, can we sustain success?” Petite said. “One of the things is the middle school program getting started this year which is tremendous for us.”

Many of the high school players had never played soccer before coming to Callaway High School.

“So, they’re playing varsity soccer and heavy minutes, learning the game as they go,” Petite said. “The [Callaway] middle school program is going to give them one, two, three years of good experience at a competitive level.”

With this pipeline being built from Callaway Middle School, Petite hopes to restart the JV program at the high school level so players are not thrown to the wolves at the varsity level so early.

The program is being built to new levels in terms of play on the field, but the soccer teams are also garnering more interest from individuals wanting to participate. More participation means more parents and spectators come out to the games, which in turn pumps more money into the program. Both the boys and girls team had record numbers of participants this year.

Petite plays risk-reward soccer, knowing that it’s a tactic that might not always work.

“We’ve taken a pretty aggressive offensive approach,” Petite said. “This year the numbers have proved it can be successful. The girls have scored 82 goals and the boys have scored 78 in 16 games.”