WILLIAMSTOWN -First-year coach Telma Poole has injected an international flavor into the Williamstown boys soccer program.
Poole, who is a native of Brazil and played soccer in that country on a semi-professional level, isn't shy about showcasing a physical style during practice sessions.
"That how coaching works in Brazil," Poole said. "If you've never played soccer before, you won't be able to coach. The player respects how you do it."
Competing as a co-ed squad last season, the Yellowjackets advanced to the regional championship of the Class AA/A boys division. They lost to eventual state champion Charleston Catholic, 4-0, and ended the campaign at 15-2-3.
Gone from that postseason run are the 10 seniors who graduated.
"Gearick Watt and I started every game last year, so we bring good experience and hopefully that will carry over into this year," said senior co-captain Matt Zlatkind.
Zlatkind and Watt, who is the team's other co-captain, will roam the defensive end of the field. The plan is that the freshmen can convert on offense.
"We have a bunch of freshmen starting, but they are experienced freshmen who have played travel ball," Zlatkind said.
Several names making an impact are first-year players Jonathan Dietz and Jonathan Petty. Coach Poole also tossed out Isaac Bosgraf's name as someone to consider.
"Power and communication (are our strengths)," Poole said. "Since we started practice, there has been much difference in passing the ball and controlling the ball. Everything gets much better every single day.
"An area we need to work is making the kids a little more aggressive in going to the goal. They pass the ball too much on the outside and I want them to go straight to the goal."
Williamstown was scheduled to open the season at Magnolia on Saturday, but that match was postponed until later in the season. Instead, the Yellowjackets debut Tuesday at home against Parkersburg Catholic.
"I can't tell how well we will do since this is my first time with the boys, but when I see the boys in the field during practice they can be really good," Poole said.
For having just learned the English language in the past seven years, there is barely any communication gap between Poole and her players. As for soccer skills, Poole can teach her team plenty.
"She gets right in there," Zlatkind said. "She is more physical than most of us and she can do whatever she wants on the field."
Poole's enthusiasm alone should account for some success for the Williamstown boys program.
"I can't imagine my life without soccer," Poole said. "In Brazil, that was my whole life. I leave all my family, which I love so much, but my dream is to be a college coach. Maybe a professional soccer coach."