ROGERSVILLE – The Cherokee girls soccer team has embarked on its 2019 season with a new coach.

Although young, Cole Wilt, a 2015 Volunteer graduate, has a long soccer history.

“I’ve played since I was three years old,” Wilt said. “I started out in AYSO here in Rogersville. I moved up to U12 and played FC Dallas in Kingsport.

“I was part of the first-ever soccer team at Rogersville Middle School and scored the first-ever goal there, first-ever goal in Hawkins County, and I played at Volunteer and scored the first goal there,” he said.

“I ended up scoring the most goals there and got a scholarship to play at Tusculum.

I played but sat the bench for three years. I got a lot of experience,” Wilt said.

“As far as coaching, when I was in college, I coached little kids and I helped coach as an assistant at Volunteer,” said Wilt, who completed his history degree at Tusculum in May. “This is my first real paid position. I’m a non-faculty coach. I’m trying to get on as a teacher and head coach, also.”

Wilt has lofty goals for the Cherokee soccer program.

“What made me want to coach this team was, all the counties around us are huge soccer counties, like Sullivan County. They have teams like Dobyns-Bennett. Then there’s Science Hill not too far away, and Greeneville. They’re all huge,” he said.

“Why can’t we be like that? I want to make that happen here. I know we have the talent. We just need someone who is going to push them and someone who actually cares about it. I want us to get to that next level,” said Wilt, who is passionate about the sport.

“I’ve liked soccer since I was a kid. The way it’s played, when it’s played correctly, it’s the most beautiful sport in the world. It’s the most popular sport in the world, too. You can learn so much about many different cultures playing it,” he said.

Wilt will be counting on his older players to be leaders. They exhibited that early.

“We’ve got five seniors,” he said. “I had an interest meeting and they beat me there. They’re interested. They’ve played their whole life.”

“Our key players are all five seniors, who are Gracie Linkous, Anna Herrell, Haley Livesay in midfield,” Wilt said.

“We also have Jalyn Egbert. She’s playing striker, attacking midfield. She’s probably one of our most skilled players. She’s going to be key this year, too,” he said.

Linkous and Taylor Ward, a transfer senior from Volunteer, will share goal-keeping duties.

Wilt hopes his guidance and their leadership will help grow the program.

“They’ve not really had much support. Coaches in the past have been sports coaches. They weren’t soccer coaches. I’m a soccer coach,” said Wilt, who likes the attitude of his squad.

“They’re eager to get started and ready to win. They work very, very hard. I tell them to jump and they say how high. That says a lot about their work ethic,” he said. “We’ve got to get our defense straightened out, though.”

Wilt knows Rome wasn’t built in a day. He wants to get the trajectory going up, though, with the Lady Chiefs soccer team.

“The goal for this year is, of course, you want to win every game. But I don’t think that’s realistic,” Wilt said.

“But the goal that we set is we are always going to be the harder-working team and the smarter team. There’s not going to be a team – I don’t care if we’re getting beat 9-0 – that’s going to work harder than us,” he said.

“We’re going to work together. We’re going to be one team, one unit. Then we’ll take it from there. If we do that, you can only grow,” Wilt said.