When the 2013 Illinois Valley Central girls' soccer team takes the field, it will be under the helm of a new coach.
Jen Adkison was announced as the new coach at the Sept. 11 school board meeting.
"My initial response was a mix of emotions including happiness, shock and nervousness," Adkison said. "I was honored that I was even considered by former coach Pat Sell and the administration."
Adkison began coaching while attending Illinois Central College and Illinois State University.
"Growing up, I had two goals: teaching and coaching if I was not playing in the WNBA," Adkison said. "I grew up surrounded by coaches that were not only my coach on the field and court, but a mentor off it.
"I enjoy teaching skills and teaching the overall game, whether it is soccer or basketball. It is amazing watching girls improve over the course of the season as players, athletes and as young ladies."
Adkison coached junior high basketball at Mossville Junior High and was the IVC junior varsity soccer head coach last season.
"I have met most of the girls from coaching last season," Adkison said. "I am very excited. They are a great group of kids and are ready to start playing."
While her days of playing soccer ended, Adkison said it did not end her love of the sport.
"When I stopped playing soccer due to injuries, I had two options," Adkison said. "My options were give up and move on or use what I knew and have passion for the game and use it positively to help others and that is what I did."
Someone does not dedicate that much of their life to a sport unless they have strong feelings for it, Adkison said.
"I love the game, the fast pace and the overall feeling playing on the field," Adkison said. "That is the same feeling I get coaching it. Every day is a learning experience and life lessons are learned and reflected on. Coaching is not easy, I never believed that until I was sitting where my coaches used to.
"However, at the end of the day, when I look at myself and see how one person has made a positive change or improvement on or off the court, it makes all the hard work worth it."
For her first year as a head coach, Adkison has several goals for the long term.
"My goal as a first year soccer coach is to establish a good rapport with other soccer coaches in the area, the community, parents and the girls," Adkison said. "My goal is to use all my resources and continue to learn the game of soccer while teaching it. My last goal as a first year head coach is to continue to help soccer grow in the community starting with the high school down to the youth teams while building and maintaining a good girls' program.
Page 2 of 2 - "Other communities around the area are focusing on soccer and it's a growing interest sport so I am hoping that we can continue steps in this direction playing competitive soccer."
While she may have long-term goals, Adkison said she is also focused on goals for the 2013 season.
"My goals for the girls this season is to start the season more prepared and in shape than previously," Adkison said. "I want to build a very positive team with the girls guiding each other. My hope is that the great program Pat Sell established and mentored me on last year continues to build and we are competitive with teams throughout the season."