New voice: Troup boys soccer brings Braden Shealy onboard as head coach

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

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The Troup boys soccer team will have a new voice leading the team come 2024. Eddie Lawson, who served as the Tigers’ coach during their most successful stint in program history, is stepping down and making way for Braden Shealy. 

“I have always been around athletics,” Shealy said. “I played football, basketball, baseball and ran track because my high school did not have a soccer team.”

Shealy is not an unfamiliar face for the Tigers by any stretch. Shealy is a teacher at Long Cane and has served as an assistant football coach at Troup High the past several seasons after a season on the Long Cane staff.

“I knew coaching at Troup would be more of a time commitment, but I knew that I wanted to coach at the high school level,” Shealy said.

Hiring somebody from within the Long Cane/Troup connection means that Shealy already has a natural relationship with many of the players that will make up his team.

“We have quite a few guys that cross over between football and soccer and I taught some of them at Long Cane,” Shealy said. “I have a great relationship with some of those guys already and are excited about the direction the soccer program is going.”

Shealy, originally from Cordele, came to LaGrange College to play baseball and naturally found a home in Troup County.

“I came here on a visit when I was still in high school and was being recruited by the baseball team there,” Shealy said. “I immediately fell in love with the area and found my wife here.”

Shealy dipped his toes into coaching baseball, including a one-year stint as the Troup High JV coach but felt burned out on the sport after so many years around the game. Shealy felt a calling to coach football.

He had the chance to play football in high school, but his high school did not have a soccer team which left him to play outside of the school system when he had some free time.

This lack of access to the beautiful game did not dampen his love for the sport.

“I have always enjoyed soccer and been around the game but just never had the opportunity to play in high school,” he said. “I have always wanted to be more involved in the sports, so when this opportunity presented itself I felt led to take it.”

When he was first approached about the job from Troup athletic director Andrew Calhoun, he was a bit taken aback. He had loved the sport but was unsure if he would be the right fit.

Shealy took some time to think about it and decided that it was the right time and right place for him to become a head coach.

“This is my first time being a head coach of a varsity team,” Shealy said. ‘This is my first time having to deal with all the logistical side of coaching.”

This will be the first time that Shealy will be the head coach of an entire program. He always hoped that it would happen but did not expect it to fall into his lap so soon.

“I never really imagined myself coaching soccer growing up even though I love the sport and know a fair amount about it,” Shealy said. “I did not anticipate being a head coach this early or be leading a soccer team, but I feel led to take this position.”

The Tigers are 20-8-2 over the last two seasons and have booked a spot in the playoffs both years. The key for Shealy is to maintain what has been built while raising the bar even higher for the program.

“This program has been very successful recently, they have made the playoffs the last two years,” Shealy said. “We have to make sure that that is the standard and then from there I want to elevate us to the next level.”

Shealy is in the heart of the football season, coaching the talented Troup wide receiver room, but it will not be long before he trades in his football cleats for his fútbol cleats.