Back on the pitch: Mike Coburn revives the boys soccer program at LaGrange Academy

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Boys soccer is back at LaGrange Academy. Mike Coburn, the former JV soccer coach at LaGrange High, is rebuilding the program from the ground up and the foundation is already being laid. 

“I like the challenge of being able to build a program from the ground up and put my identity as a soccer player and coach into the team,” Coburn said. “With the kids that we have, our main goal is to make it to state, and everything after that would be a bonus.”

The team ceased to exist last year after limping to a 1-7 record in 2022. Coburn brings a fresh perspective and new energy to a program that has been in dire need of just that.

“When I got here they told me that they hadn’t had a varsity in a little while, and then I had two students here come up to me and tell me that they wished there was a soccer team here,” Coburn said. “I went and recruited every male in the school I possibly could.”

Initially Coburn was unsure of whether he could actually get enough kids involved to field a team. Eventually, Coburn had his 11 players to field a team and then some.

“We went from not having a team to barely being able to have a team to having 16 players on the team which is one of the biggest teams this school has ever had,” Coburn said.

The players have varying levels of soccer experience. Some have never played, but the team does consist of two players that have regularly played club soccer. 

“We have some kids out here that can really play, and I was surprised how many of them were as good as they said they were,” Coburn said with a laugh. “I have two players that have a lot of experience playing soccer , and a few that have played their fair share too.”

Coburn understands the challenges he faces rebuilding the program. Ideally, more of the kids would play club or parks and rec soccer, but the reality is that the school needs these athletes to play other sports and that is no issue for the new head coach.

The beginning of the season is ever approaching for the Warriors. They are set to hit the road to take on St. George’s for their season opener next Monday. 

“I want the kids to buy into the program and what I’m telling them before we establish our soccer identity,” Coburn said. “I want kids who want to be here and once I get that then we can build on that next year and the year after.”

While not a native of Troup County — he originally hails from Arkansas — Coburn has deep ties to the soccer community here. In the mid 2000s Coburn was a member of the LaGrange College men’s soccer team. He has seen soccer grow tremendously in this area over the years and looks forward to his part in continuing to grow the game in Troup County.

“There is no reason that we can’t pull kids from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup that want to play soccer, we want to build an All-Star team here,” he said, flashing a smile.

“I also coach at a club team called UMA out of LaGrange and Valley and we are looking to potentially bring an FC Barcelona camp here this summer with UMA and [LaGrange Academy] sponsoring that.”

The first home game will not be until Mar. 12, but the energy is brewing at LaGrange Academy.

“The upper school is excited about the team and want to have it set up just like basketball where we have themed days and have signs and have as many kids as we can out here cheering.”