The interest in soccer at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School continues to climb.
Coach Gary Hindley held a preseason meeting with prospective players last week with 58 athletes attending as prelude to the start of practice next month.
“The numbers and interest in soccer grows every year at Port St. Joe and in the area,” said Hindley, who is entering his sixth season with the program. “The excitement of this summer’s World Cup has probably been a huge factor in raising interest in the game locally and nationally.”
Hindley’s staff include Eli Duarte, who will spend his fifth season as assistant coach.
Eighteen girls showed up for the preseason meeting, eight of them returning players.
The Lady Tiger Sharks return three all-district players in sophomore forward Kathleen Rish, senior midfielder Hayley Wood and freshman goalkeeper Celeste Chiles.
"We have lost five seniors which will be very hard to replace but we should still be able to field a competitive team," Hindley said.
The girls were 9-5-3 overall and 3-1-2 in district play last year. They begin practice Monday, Oct. 6. The season begins with a preseason Jamboree Saturday, Oct. 25.
Interest in the boys’ team brought out 40 athletes for the preseason meeting last week, 18 returning players from a team that went 10-8-2 overall, 3-1-0 in district play last season.
"We lost two very good senior players from last year’s squad, but with some talented returnees and a good bit of athleticism in some of the new players, we should be fine," Hindley said. "We look forward to getting started with training on Oct 13."
The Tiger Sharks will host a preseason Jamboree on Saturday, Nov. 1 to kick off the 2014 campaign.