With more than 65 students signed up from Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School to participate this season, the Port St. Joe soccer programs continue their rapid growth over the past seven years.
As of this week, the boys’ and girls’ teams were practicing – the girls began Oct. 8; the boys Oct. 15 – with more than 30 players apiece.
The Lady Tiger Sharks host a preseason jamboree this weekend.
On Friday, Crestview will play Mosley at 6 p.m. ET followed by Port St. Joe versus Bay at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Crestview will play Bay at 2 p.m., Mosley will play Port St. Joe at 4 p.m. and Port St. Joe will play Crestview at 6 p.m.
All games will be at the Sam Cox Field soccer complex.
Coach Gary Hindley begins his fourth year at the reins of the program. Hindley has a record of 42-37-8 and his teams have one three boys’ and one girls’ district titles and one boys regional championship.
"The Port St Joe Youth Soccer League and its coaches and especially Mike Lacour (and his predecessors, the Drs. Tom and Elizabeth Curry) as its administrator, have been instrumental in the awareness and interest shown in the sport,” Hindley said in talking about increased participation in soccer at the middle school and high school levels.
“We still have a ways to go to improve the technical quality, but the numbers interested in pursuing the sport has been significantly increased. No high school soccer program can be successful without a proper feeder Program," Hindley said.
Hindley, who is five wins short of 400 professional wins in his career (395-282-24, spanning high school, college and professional ranks, looks to pick up those wins in the November portion of the Tiger Shark schedule. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams open at Rutherford Nov 6.
The Lady Tiger Sharks return 10 lettermen from a team that went 9-4-1 in 2011 and lost in the District 1-1A semifinals. Three time all-District midfielder, Rachel Jones, the school’s all-time leader among girls in games, goals, assists and points has graduated and "will be very difficult to replace,” Hindley said.
Hindley also loses all-District goalkeeper Shannon Pridgeon, who decided to basketball a try this winter.
The Tiger Sharks return 11 lettermen from last year’s 15-3-1 squad that won district and lost in the regional quarterfinals. The team’s leading scorer, sophomore Marcel Duarte, who led the district and tri-county area (Bay, Gulf, Franklin), with 19 goals as a freshman, returns along with second leading scorer, senior Javarri Beachum (13 goals) and fourth-leading scorer, sophomore Cole Cryderman (six goals) to bolster the offense.
Hindley's said his task early in the season will be to replace the defensive back four and goalkeeper, who all graduated.
"I will be shuffling a handful of both returnees and newcomers into those positions during the early season to see which combination works best for us,” Hindley said. “It would be obvious that we have to find a capable goalkeeper as the main priority."
The boys’ preseason jamboree will be Nov. 2-3 with Port Sts. Joe, Taylor County, Franklin County and Tallahassee Godby competing at Sam Cox Field.