E.A. Sports Today

Mize a coach’s coach

Weaver coach guides both Bearcats teams through tragedy to berths in state tournament, named state 1A-5A girls soccer coach of the year

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Weaver soccer coach Chelsea Mize went through a season no coach has a playbook for and it turned out to be something memorable.

She endured the tragic loss of a player in December and later a deeply personal tragedy, but she leaned on her faith and the players rallied around the adversity to produce the most historic season in the program’s short history with both teams making the state tournament for the first time.

For the effort, Mize was recognized by the state soccer coaches as the Class 1A-5A girls coach of the year.

“This is the highest honor I have ever received as far as being a coach,” Mize told East Alabama Sports Today. “It has been such a crazy year. It started out so rough losing Isaac (but) we banded together and we had good seasons for both teams.

“It’s bittersweet in a sense of the season we had that I’ve been recognized for such a high honor. I want to say this: This type of honor cannot be achieved without the phenomenal assistant coaches and parents that helped make this happen.”

It was a year of tragedy and triumph for the Bearcats.

It started with the tragic death of senior Isaac Crook in December after the defensive specialist collapsed during an offseason run at the school track. A few months later tragedy struck the program again when Mize miscarried.

But the Bearcats rallied around their teammates and coach. The boys team reached the finals of the Calhoun County Tournament, losing on a golden goal after racing out to an early lead. Both teams finished second in their area and made the state tournament. For the girls, it was their first trip ever to state.

The girls finished 7-7-2, the boys 10-6-1.

“We went into the season really excited,” Mize said. “I knew both teams were going to be extremely competitive, and then we had the setback losing Isaac. I think the team got even stronger because of that, because we wanted to honor him and I think we ultimately achieved that and more.

“We played with class and we played really hard – both teams. We didn’t make it through the first playoff game, but our program, being as young as it was, that was a feat in itself and something we can build on.”

Weaver principal Andy Keith said Mize has done an “extraordinary job” with the soccer program and is “extremely deserving” of the award.

“Coach Mize does an amazing job getting her players to play at the highest level,” Keith said. “She kept her players focused throughout this uphill battle of a soccer season. Early on she and her program had some setbacks, but she stayed positive and optimistic that they would overcome the obstacles they faced and that is exactly what they did.

“Coach Mize and her players continued to overcome adversity and made it to the postseason. What a great job she did navigating our soccer program this year.”

Mize was among 11 area coaches and players recognized by the coaches.

Donoho’s two-time Calhoun County Girls Tournament MVP Erin Turley was named to the coaches first-team all-state team – the only 1A player on the first team and only freshman among the 45 first or second teamers – while junior teammates Maggie Wakefield and Tosin Sanusi were second teamers. Turley, Wakefield, Sanusi and sophomore defender Lillie Mae Sherman were all first-team Class 1A-3A.

Turley scored 34 goals and dished 22 assists for the state runnerups. Sanusi had 33 goals and 22 assists. Wakefield posted 17 shutouts. The 22 assists tied for, ironically, 22ndon the AHSAA single-season list. Wakefield’s shutouts would be tied for fifth.

The Lady Falcons’ defense gave up only eight goals in 23 games.

Glencoe’s Laney Bishop and Morgan Lasseter also made the Class 1A-3A first team.

Lincoln senior midfielder Grace Lin made first-team all-state and was joined by teammates Adyson Hendrix and Emi Nabors on the Class 4A-5A first team. 

Oxford sophomore defender Sawyer Brooks was a Class 6A second-team pick.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login