SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: Partlow new to HHS girls soccer but not to players
Will Partlow is coaching Hartselle High School’s girls soccer team for the first time, but he has coached every player on the team previously in his 15 years of coaching.
Partlow moved up to HHS from the junior high girls soccer team this year after Kevin Shivers stepped down after last season.
“I have coached every one of these girls in junior high or AYSO before,” Partlow said. “I had been at HJHS for a while even after my daughter left, trying to build up the program. The HHS soccer program will only grow if it has a good feeder program in the junior high. I only left when I knew I would have good coaches stepping in.”
Four seniors graduated from last year’s team, but six seniors will be stepping up to the open leadership role. Of the 15 players on this year’s team who play club soccer, two of them are seniors who are on a three-time ASA state championship team. Five of the seniors are four-year starters.
This year’s seniors are Hanna Brown, Stefanie Evans, Claire Forsythe, Cady Hensley, Caroline Partlow and Stephanie Roman.
Partlow said their team is very young but also very talented.
“They are quite a bit of experience, but we are a very young team with eight freshmen and four sophomores,” Partlow said. “All of the freshmen play on club teams, but their only weakness is their small size. We will have a very deep bench with them, and some of them are good enough to start. The way our freshman perform will probably make or break our team, but it’s going to take them all.”
Partlow said he had definitely seen a big difference in the dedication of his players over the last couple of years.
“We are really pushing and preaching to the players and parents to get involved with club soccer once they are out of junior high,” Partlow said. “They will be able to work on their skills at a high playing level all year. I’m also starting to get girls who have played together from a young age. Dedication is what it takes to have a legitimate program.”
Hartselle will be in an area with Austin and Decatur this year, who have been close competitors for the last few years.
“Our goal for the year is for Hartselle to compete for the county championship and host a playoff game,” Partlow said. “It’s definitely going to be interesting since they have been such close games and most of the girls will be playing against their teammates from club on Austin and Decatur’s teams.”