Four Lady Rockets chosen to start Lady Charger soccer team
It’s awesome to be a part of a new, exciting, and groundbreaking experience.
It’s even better when you are chosen to be the backbone of the endeavor and that’s what happened on Tuesday at Forrest when Lady Rocket soccer players Jasmine Runk, Johnetta Nelson, Rickee Gayle Carter, and Adriana Reyes became the first signees of the fledgling soccer program at Columbia State Community College that will begin play this fall.
“It’s awesome, four girls signed all on the same day, all going to the same school, all four of our seniors and we are going to miss them, but we know they are going on to bigger and better things at Columbia State,” Forrest coach Nicole Pickle said. “They are going to be part of history at Columbia State in their inaugural season.”
Columbia Central graduate Colton Bryant, the director of development at Premier Futboltech Development Academy has returned home to start the program as the new head coach.
“Coach Bryant made four awesome choices and I think he made the right ones,” Pickle said. “We are going to miss all four of them, Jasmine particularly in the net because she was someone we could trust to put anywhere on the field and do her job, no matter what.”
Carter played forward, midfield, and defender for the Lady Rockets.
“She (Carter) is just another utility player we could put anywhere on the field and she would get the job done,” Pickle said. “She’s aggressive, she’s tough, she’s not going to let anybody beat her and she is ferocious on the field and we are going to miss that.”
Reyes has started since her freshman year and Nelson was a team manager before deciding to take the pitch as a player two years ago.
Bryant played soccer at Martin Methodist College before a series of injuries ended his playing career, but the Norman, Oklahoma native turned to coaching as a student assistant coach for RedHawks men’s soccer team.
Bryant gained much more experience as he went to coach in Florida, Texas, Argentina, and Tennessee.
“When I moved back it was the first thing I wanted to do, we didn’t have a collegiate program at Columbia State, so now we started with the girls,” Bryant said. “I looked at enrollment rates, we needed it for Title IX.”
“I liked it due to the Tennessee Promise where we are able to give opportunity and local girls can go to school for free and each scholarships she gets can be a check in their pocket, so it is beneficial on both sides.”
Bryant had 47 girls tryout for the squad and currently has 19 girls committed to the team with the four Forrest girls in the initial group of signees.
“I came and met with Forrest ahead of I guess recruit time just to see how much interest they would have and asked them to come and tryout and they all did well,” Bryant said.
Runk, a four-time all-district selection was a prize recruit for Bryant, who said about the three-time district Goalkeeper of the Year, “Jasmine is a great goalkeeper and we had another one come in who is a little taller and they had a real good competition at tryouts and that was good. I think Jasmine currently will be first choice, but there is a lot of competition and that is good.”
Reyes was named all-district this season and Carter made the squad as a junior.
“My expectations are high in terms of where we are, it is a prime location for recruiting,” Bryant said. “Up in Williamson County they won the national championship for senior girls in high school, so we are in a great spot in Tennessee.”
“In terms of our conference, we should be the powerhouse and I would like to see that happen.”
Jackson State is also slated to join and make it a four-team conference.
“We will have a little tournament at the end of the season between us four and then be put in a region,” Bryant said. “They don’t know if we will be put in North Florida or Georgia yet and North Florida is the best in the country, so that will be interesting.”
Bryant has a game scheduled at the University of Alabama and is negotiating with Belmont University to play at game in Columbia.
“I think coach Bryant is going to do a great job, he definitely has the knowledge of the game to back him up,” Pickle said. “He’s got contacts all over the place that can help him train his players to get them into the mindset and mentality that they need to be to compete with some of the upper level division colleges and I think that is a definite possibility over the next several years for that program and I hope it grows and does really well and I hope to send more players to him.”