A team of their own

Published 12:18 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Latrina Cross, 15, intercepts a kick from the boys team during a practice. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Latrina Cross, 15, intercepts a kick from the boys team during a practice. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—For the first time in Western Tidewater – in recent memory at least – a local school will field an all girls team.

Amanda Rickmon dribbles the ball up the field. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Amanda Rickmon dribbles the ball up the field. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Latrina Cross, a 15-year-old sophomore midfielder/forward, was very excited because it gives the girls a better opportunity to show off their skills.

“We get a chance to have the ball and we’ll be able to score,” she said. “Boys might be stronger, but we can still shoot.”

Christopher Gorgei, who used to coach the JV team, will now be the girls soccer coach.

“This is something that Mr. Felts and I have been talking about for a long time because both of our daughters play together in select soccer,” said Gorgei of Travis Felts, FHS’s principal. “And there’s a lot of motivation for girls soccer around here, too. We’re an 1A school, and we had 26 girls come try out.

“We felt like it was time.”

One of the biggest reasons to have an all girls team, Gorgei said, was because a lot of the boys are big football and basketball players.

“It is hard for them to compete against them,” he said. “They are not their size, but they are still really athletic and talented. Plus, I think, we are going to be pretty good as a first-year team.”

Lauren Sheehy, a 17-year-old senior midfielder, said that could make a big difference toward college.

“With a coed team, girls were not able to get scholarships for soccer,” she said. “Now, with an all-girls team, we’ll get more time so more scouts can come out and be able to see us in action.”

Leeasha Saab, a 16-year-old junior forward, said coach Gorgei helped get her interested in the sport.

“I wasn’t very interested in soccer until I met Gorgei,” she said. “It’s just fun, now. He taught me to enjoy and love the sport.”

The Lady Broncos during the regular season will be playing teams from 3A down to 1A, and the conference features 1A and 2A teams.

While they are new, Gorgei said winning games was a priority.

“We are not just going through the motions,” he said. “I have a good feeling about being a very good team. I think we’ll compete and win some games.”

Athletics Director Dave Lease said he was really excited to have this program.

“I know it is a process to build a program, and I don’t know how it will go this first year,” he said. “But I am really excited for the girls — there’s been a lot of interest.”

Principal Travis Felts was also excited for the girls.

“I think we ought to give our young boys and girls as many opportunities as we can to participate,” he said. “And it’s not like we had to give anything up for girls soccer. We still have a boys soccer team, and we still have a softball team, and a girls tennis and track team.”

Felts said over the past couple of years the coed team has been close to half girls, and that also played a role.

“We had an interest meeting in the fall, and that was successful,” he said. “Then we had some skills sessions, to make sure the girls were truly interested and not just showing up for a meeting. A lot of them stuck with it.

“We are very excited. We are about to have our first ever girls soccer game in Franklin High School History. I only wish it was at home.”

As a first-year program, Gorgei said the primary expectation is just to make it work.

“I just want to make sure the machine is well oiled, getting everyone together,” he said. “The number one thing about soccer is chemistry. We’ve got to work together and make sure we talk to one another. I’ve even got them eating lunch together.”

Cross was excited for other reasons, too, including getting to know the other girls better.

“All of us girls get to come together and show how athletic we are,” she said. “It’s really cool because we’ll also be able to bond, too.”

The Lady Broncos kick off their season tonight, March 21, at Essex at 5:30 p.m. Their first home game is Thursday, April 3, against Northampton at 5:30 p.m.