Singleton ready for next step
New Eastside girls coach looks to keep improving

COVINGTON - New Eastside girls soccer coach Joel Singleton will try to keep the Lady Eagles on the steady road of improvement and build the program from the previous two coaches.

In 2005 and 2006, Kevin Yancey had seasons of 1-12-3 and 2-15. For the last three years, Libba Willcox took the girls to a 5-9, 9-6 and 10-5 record.

The Lady Eagles even made it to the Class AAA state playoffs this season, where they lost to a North Hall team that made it to the state championship game.

"I want to keep the winning tradition going. In the last three years they've won more than the year before," Singleton said. "I think it helped being in (Class) AAA this year. But even if they weren't, I think they still would've been competitive (in AAAA)."

Besides continuing to build on the tradition of winning more games than the previous season, Singleton wants to make it back to the playoffs with a higher seed.

"One of my goals, especially with the group of kids that we have, is to make it to the state playoffs again and hopefully get past the first round. Also, within our region, they ended up as a four seed and obviously I'd like to build on that if we can," he said.

Singleton knows that his quest for constant improvement will be difficult, especially with half of this season's team being made up of seniors.

But with that out of his control, all he can do is focus on bringing out the best of the girls he has coming back.

"We have a lot of experience coming back. I believe there are four or five juniors that are rising seniors that saw an awful lot of playing time. Several freshman, I think three or four, saw some ample playing time and started a good portion of the season," Singleton said.

"I think from an experience standpoint they'll be pretty solid. The JV team had a very strong season this year. They only lost two games I think. If it hadn't been for the overload of seniors a lot of those players may have seen some varsity time."

Even though he does not have experience coaching girls soccer, he does have experience coaching soccer and girls.

For nine years at Rockdale High School, Singleton coached the boys soccer team as well as softball and girls basketball.

Not having experience with the Eastside girls soccer program, Singleton plans on evaluating each aspect of the team before implementing any changes.

"One of the things, for me philosophically is building camaraderie. That, and practice and preparation. In my background, what I typically like to do is have a purpose for everyday. That way they know what's going to happen, where we're going and of course apply that to a game situation," he said.

One change that he plans to put into effect as soon as possible is to make sure the girls are involved in soccer or some other physical activity year round.

"If they're not already playing in a league or on a team in the summer they have to do something physical," Singleton added. "In the fall, those that aren't involved in fall sports, will have to take part in something. Either playing soccer somewhere or making sure they're working out here. I want folks to know that we're serious about it."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.