DECATUR -- With the close of the basketball season comes an influx of outdoor sports like baseball, softball, track and soccer. For the Decatur Bulldog soccer program, which struggled over the past two years to stay alive, a new look is on the horizon which is a welcome relief for the many soccer fans in this small community of 1,600.
Sheldon McKinize joined the Decatur Bulldog coaching staff as the defensive coordinator for the football program as well as the new head soccer coach.
Since the beginning of the school year, McKinize has actively recruited players, some veterans, some new, to begin rebuilding the program. The response was so overwhelming that McKinize had to add a junior-varsity team to allow some of the younger, less-experienced players a chance to learn the sport by actively participating in a game setting. But there was one more change for the Decatur soccer program that none of the coaches and administrator expected.
Several girls got together and devised a plan to revise the girls' soccer program which was discontinued several years ago due to lack of interest. Representatives from the girls' team approached McKinize and John Unger, Decatur athletic director, to unveil the plan to achieve their goals to play soccer.
"I first approached several of the girls when I first arrived in Decatur about wanting to put together a team and the importance of having a girls' program," McKinize said. "I had a handful of girls that took it upon themselves to go out and fundraise, recruit players and organize the program. And they came through."
The Lady Bulldog soccer team has yet to practice at full strength due to basketball season. Some of the basketball players have expressed an interest in joining the girls' program. McKinize plans on being up to full strength by the end of February.
McKinize had several girls that have stepped up and are ready for the challenges ahead.
"We had five girls that have been at practice every day even if they didn't necessarily want to," McKinize said. "Jacqueline Hernandez, Diana Reza, Rene Nino, Maritza Matul and Bailey Endora have all demonstrated the desire to play soccer and continue to improve each practice."
McKinize started practice for all three teams in late November 2017, at the end of the football season. Since the Bulldogs play in the 1A/4A conference, McKinize has used the extra time to get his players prepared for some of the toughest teams in the conference, several of which were 2017 region and state finalists.
The Bulldogs will return several veteran players such as Rigo Rubi, Sebastian Perez and Jimmy Mendoza. But he has several new players like Taylor Haisman who want to be involved in every aspect of the Decatur sports program, including soccer.
McKinize also found that he had a group of boys eager to learn the sport and do what it takes to win games.
"We have some guys that are freshmen that are going to get some playing time this season," McKinize said. "Guys like Royer Hernendez and Carlos Hernendez, who have been at practice every day and put in the work just like everybody else. They have the ability. It's just a matter of finding a spot on the team that works for them."
The Lady Bulldog varsity team kicks off the 2018 soccer season with an away game against the Bentonville Lady Tiger JV team March 5 at Bentonville High School. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m, weather permitting.
The Decatur Bulldog varsity team kicks off its season with a home game against the Life Way Christian Warriors at Bulldog Stadium in Decatur March 6, Game time is at 4:30 p.m.
Plan to come out and support all three teams as they begin a new season of one of the fastest growing sports in this country.
2018 Decatur Bulldogs (VB), Lady Bulldogs (VG), and Junior Varsity Boys (JVB) soccer schedule:
March 5 Bentonville JV @ Bentonville VG 5 p.m.
March 6 Life Way Christian @ Decatur VB 4:30 p.m.
March 8 Rogers JV @ Rogers VB, VG 5 p.m.
March 12 Shiloh Christian @ Springdale VG 5 p.m.
March 15 Subiaco Academy @ Decatur VB 5:30 p.m.
March 27 Stilwell, Okla. @ Decatur JVB, VB 5 p.m.
March 29 Eureka Springs @ Eureka Springs VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 3 Prairie Grove @ Decatur JVB, VG, VB 4 p.m.
April 6 Berryville @ Berryville VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 9 Huntsville @ Decatur VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 10 Danville @ Decatur VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 12 Gentry @ Decatur VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 17 Life Way Christian @ Centerton VB 5:30 p.m.
April 19 Lincoln @ Lincoln VG, JVB 5 p.m.
April 20 Lead Hill @ Lead Hill VB 5:30 p.m.
April 23 Green Forest @ Green Forest VG, VB 5 p.m.
April 26 Bergman @ Decatur VB 5 p.m.
April 30 Lincoln @ Decatur VG, JVB 5 p.m.
May 3 Dardanelle @ Dardanelle VG, VB 5 p.m.
May 10-12 State Tournament @ Batesville VG,VB time to be announcedSports on 02/28/2018
Print Headline: Decatur soccer program adds girls and junior varsity program this season