Save Poca High School Boys Soccer

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When you were a kid, did you have a dream?

A dream that maybe one day you would score a winning touchdown in a championship game? Be the conductor of your schools winning marching band or run the last leg of a state championship track event?

Most of us have – we work relentlessly as a child, then as an adolescent to reach these goals. To be a part of a team, to learn how to be a leader, and just be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

How would you feel if you were 5 games into a soccer season only to have it ripped away from you? That is exactly what has happened at Poca High School, to the boys’ soccer team. They are not a state championship team – they may not even make it to the regionals this year; however, they are a team. They are a team that has worked together since the beginning of the summer to be ready to take on teams stronger than them, faster than them, BIGGER than them; give them the chance to play.

Poca High School Soccer has not been around for too long. In 2014, there was no soccer program at Poca High School – the boys decided they wanted to change this. They started raising money and raised the $3,000 with a petition to start a program. And they did; in 2015, Poca High School played their first game as a team, together. They are small, but they are mighty. They have a common goal; to work together and they play hard. They do not have the same luxuries as other Putnam County schools such as Winfield or Hurricane, with 20-25+ players on the bench. They aren’t able to sub players in and out to get a breath or a water break; but it is THEIR choice to continue to play this way. And they do not give up. Neither will we.

Last season, 18-19, the soccer program graduated 10 seniors –According to the Putnam County Board of Education, a high school soccer program must have 15 players on the roster to constitute a team eligible to play. Our season started that way – they worked relentlessly to gather up enough players to be a “team”. Seniors that had never played before decided to give it a chance, be a part of something they hadn’t before, and we had our team practicing all summer. For various reasons, we ended up with not all 15 eligible to play; that happens due to academic reasons or injuries; but they are still there, still a part of something.

On September 5, when the kids were gathering together to board the bus to play at Winfield, the school Athletic Director contacted the school Soccer coach to inform him due to the small number of players not be in accordance to “school policy” the remainder of the season was cancelled. They have played 5 games. They have practiced. They have fundraised for warmups, socks, and practice jerseys – and it’s just over? Why was it allowed to be started?

This is not acceptable to do to children. As adults, we teach children when you start something, you finish. We cannot ask children to be punished for actions or lack thereof, of adults. These kids need to be given the opportunity to play. What or who are they hurting by being allowed to play? I do not know who’s “fault” this is – and I really do not care. I don’t know if the school tried to “throw the kids a bone” and allow them to play without the number required by Putnam County Policy – again, I do not care. What I do care about is keeping these kids out of trouble. Giving these kids a reason to be a “scholar athlete” by following rules and keeping their grades above the minimum requirement. Proving to these children that you stand up for what you believe in. You bind together, as a TEAM, and stand up for what is right. Not allowing them to finish a season they were allowed to start is wrong on so many levels.

Please show these kids, this school, and this community that there are people who stand up for others when the odds and “policies” are against them. Show them that everything cannot always be “black and white” and they can be small and mighty.
We owe it to these kids to believe in them and show them do not give up.

I appreciate your time,

Whitney Williams