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Picking postseason all-star lineups has long been the domain of newspapers, but I don’t like it.
We here at The Wilson Times do that for football as our All-Area team, along with Player of the Year selections, gets delivered in our Christmas Day edition every year just like Santa brought it. And we offer our All-Area teams and players of the year for girls and boys basketball every year on the Saturday before Easter, giving youngsters in the coverage area a chance to pore over our picks as they use the sports section to keep the egg dye off the kitchen table.
Those are Times traditions that go back a lot further than I and are here to stay for just that reason. However, we draw the line at picking all-area teams for other sports. Why? Well, for one thing, I prefer to not attempt to choose all-area teams in sports that we may not see every area team play in a given season. Thus, I was very happy to hear that the Wilson Youth Soccer Association had decided to honor the top soccer players — boys in the fall and girls in the spring — with an all-county team and a player of the year — a Mr. Soccer and, presumably, a Miss Soccer for Wilson County. After all, the folks at WYSA have seen many of these kids play from the time they were in elementary school. They understand soccer way better than I, for one, ever will and if anyone in Wilson should be organizing an all-county team, it’s WYSA.
However, it’s not an original idea, admitted Steve Barry, a WYSA coach and past president who currently coaches the Downeast Association of Sports for Homeschoolers (DASH) boys team.
“We stole it — lock, stock and barrel — from Johnston United Soccer Association, which does it in Johnston County,” he said.
Barry said that Brent Walston — who is, among other things, the athletic director for Johnston County Schools and a WYSA coach and board member — brought up the idea of having an all-county team here.
“So about six or so weeks ago I brought it to the board for approval and we did,” Barry said. “All credit should go to Keith Jenkins, who is the chairman of their selection committee, and Brent Walston, who suggested it and essentially chaired our committee.”
Richard Frazier, who probably is the real Mr. Soccer in Wilson, serves as the WYSA executive director when he’s not working his real job, Wilson Parks and Recreation superintendent and the man responsible for making sure Gillette Soccer Complex runs smoothly. Frazier, who also moonlights as the Hunt High varsity girls soccer coach, explained further.
“We’ve got a lot of players now who are going on and playing in college, whether it’s Division I or Division II, and those that are not, some are capable of playing and just choose to take other avenues,” he said. “This is just another way that we can recognize them as being part of our association and just growing up with soccer in Wilson.”
Frazier pointed out that players selected to the All-County team do not have to have played on a WYSA team, although many have.
“It’s an all-county team voted on by the county coaches and put on through WYSA,” he said. “We would like to say that a majority of the kids on this team have played either with WYSA or through the Recreation Department.”
It’s a great way to honor the players who stood out by the folks who know what they’re doing.
Jackson Stone, the Greenfield School senior, who was the well-deserved Wilson County Mr. Soccer, shared a great idea that perhaps the All-County team can actually get together and be a real team for a game or two, against perhaps that JUSA All-County team or maybe one from Nash County. An maybe even have the girls play a game in the spring. Jackson suggested that it would be really cool if the game or games would be a benefit to a local charity and maybe become an annual thing.
That would be something the WYSA would probably be able to handle better than the individual schools and the players could choose to play if they wanted. After all, Wilson has long been a soccer town and Gillette would be a great place to have such an all-star event on a warm spring evening.