After five years of coaching the boys and girls soccer teams at Bradwell Institute, Greg Cooke will hand over the program to newly hired coach Tommy Oglesby and assistant football coach Adam Bryie. Cook has accepted a position on Fort Stewart as a school liaison officer.
Oglesby will become the new boys head coach and Bryie will coach the girls."It’s extremely hard, it really is," Cooke said of leaving the Tigers’ soccer program. "Just stepping away from what I do, teaching and coaching, is hard. And of course it’s because of the kids, leaving the kids. You put so much time into it and you build something back up and of
course it’s your baby. I poured the last five years into the boys and girls program but knowing I’m leaving them with a good coach … Tommy and I played at Bradwell. He has the same kind of passion for the school, the sport and our program that I had. It’s not a drop off at all. But for me it’s hard, it’s gut wrenching."
Oglesby was going to assist Cooke this season, but said when Cooke accepted the Fort Stewart job, he welcomed the opportunity to become the boys head coach.
Oglesby said he and Cooke played soccer together when they were students at Bradwell. He played his sophomore, junior and senior years before graduating in 2002. He played at South Georgia College his junior year.
On Feb. 1, the first day of tryouts, Oglesby observed, made notes and evaluated his potential players.
"The No. 1 thing is getting the boys to play together," Oglesby said. "Being able to run up and down the field together as a team and being successful in games."
The boys soccer team had five players graduate, but veteran starters Chris Shuster and David Miller will return for their senior seasons.
Shuster has been called the best player in Region 3-AAAAA by local news agencies and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But Oglesby said it’s more about teamwork, not just stats.
"Soccer is not an individual sport," he said. "Yes, he (Shuster) is good and we have very good players, but more consistently is how to use each player to their capabilities to win games. We are going to look and see who fits where and through trial and error until we get it right."
Oglesby said he expects the team to play well, play strong and build for this season and the next.
"We have a young team so we are going to have to work hard on developing them as a team," he said.
Bryie’s no stranger to playing or coaching soccer
"I played in high school and I coached junior varsity for a year in Florida and then I was the head varsity boys soccer coach in Raven County, Ga., for two years," Bryie said.
He has a strong core of returning players in Suede Jones, Danielle Jacobs, Danielle Durham and Allison Burrill.
"We definitely see some leaders emerging just from the stuff we’ve done," he said during tryouts. "It’s nice to see some of the girls taking the leadership role without me having to tell them. They take control of some of the drills and things like their stretching."
Bryie said his goal for this season is an easy one.
"We want to be competitive and do better than they did last year," he said. "That is always something I think a program should try and do is to do better than they did last year and coach Cooke has definitely left the program better than he found it and all we can try and do is make it a little better."