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Whiteoak Wildcats soar to victory: Celebrating a remarkable year for Bright Elementary Soccer Program

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article

By Robert Noe
Whiteoak Youth Soccer Program 

In just four short years, the Whiteoak Youth Soccer Program at Bright Elementary has evolved from its humble beginnings into a powerhouse, achieving remarkable success and garnering well-deserved attention. These Wildcats, with their passionate players and dedicated coaching staff, have not only made a mark on the local soccer scene but have also clinched two state championships in the past three years.

The journey of the Whiteoak soccer program has been nothing short of extraordinary. The inaugural year was during the 2020 global pandemic. That first year was unique in only consisting of interleague play with no local or state tournament. The Wildcat program has consistently demonstrated its prowess on the field. In particular, the boys teams coached by Ryan Pollard and Chad Arey have been a force to be reckoned with, qualifying for the state tournament in all three years it has been available since the Wildcat program started.

In the 2021 Ohio Say State Tournament, the Boys Passers (Katie Pollard/Stephanie Noe) and Boys Strikers (Ryan Pollard/Chad Arey) teams secured their spots, with the Passers ultimately claiming the state title. The following year, in 2022, the Boys Wings (Daniel Cox/Jesse Fitzgerald) and Boys Strikers qualified (R. Pollard/Arey), and although the Boys Wings finished in fourth place, their remarkable journey set the stage for what was to come.

Fast forward to the 2023 Ohio SAY State tournament, which took place in Hamilton, Ohio. This is the location where the Whiteoak Wildcats showcased their dominance once again. This time, not only did the Boys Passers (Sarah Barnes/Taylor Pniewski) and Boys Wings (Katie Pollard/Noe) qualify, but the Girls Strikers (John and Teresa Jolly) and Boys Kickers (Ryan Pollard/Chad Arey) also earned their spots. The Boys Wings, coached by the dynamic duo of Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe, emerged victorious, going undefeated and securing the title of Ohio Say State Champions in a nail-biter against friendly rival Leesburg. The Boys Passers claimed third place, and the Boys Kickers finished in a respectable fourth place.

Here is the roster for the 2023 Wings Ohio Say State Champions: Riker Dailey, Ryker Edmisten, Trace  Fitzgerald, Jaxon Gasche, Rayden Gipson, Rylee Gray, Grayson Kibler, Landry Lucas, Ezekiel Noe, Maxwell Pollard, Brandon Turner. Ezekiel, Trace, Landry, Max, Rayden, Brandon, and Grayson were a part of the core that previously won the 2021 Passers Ohio Say State Championship.

The success of the two state champion teams is a testament to the dedication and skill of both players and coaches. Both of the State Championship teams were coached by Katie Pollard and Stephanie Noe, both fifth-grade teachers at Bright Elementary, have not only shaped young minds in the classroom but have also nurtured a championship-winning soccer team. Their commitment to excellence, teamwork, and passion for the sport have undoubtedly played a significant role in the team's triumph.

This year, the Whiteoak soccer program has reached new heights, with an impressive total of 130 players. The community can take pride in the collective effort that has propelled the Wildcats to the forefront of youth soccer in the region.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of the Whiteoak soccer program, it's clear that this is just the beginning. Two-time state champions and multiple State medal placements is a remarkable feat for a four-year-old program. The Wildcats' success is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and spirit of the players, and coaches, and the support of the entire community. The Whiteoak Wildcats have truly demonstrated that with commonality, perseverance and teamwork, anything is possible on and off the field.

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