Jamaican-born girl’s high school soccer coach, Leon Powell, tells his Lamar School Varsity team that if they don’t ‘kick up their game’ he will require extra practices that would conflict with the ‘other Futbol’ game times – American football. That would mean players would miss out on Friday Night Lights AND College games on Saturdays. Needless to say, they rose to the occasion and delivered an improved performance and didn’t have to miss any ‘FOOTball’ time.
Typically, teen girls are into shopping, social events and boys, but let me explain what American football means in the South… locals migrate to area high schools on Friday nights with their stadium seats to fill the stands and cheer for their home team. Fans travel hours to a college campus on a Saturday morning to set up a canopy tent to prepare inordinate amounts of food for a day-long tailgate party. IT’S JUST A WAY OF LIFE. So, when Coach Powell threatened the girls to step up or miss out, it worked.
One of the key players on the Lamar team is Emma Kate “EK” Uithoven, who plays Varsity… as a 7th grader. Yes, she’s my niece, but this is NOT a biased angle. She’s good enough that she’s making media headlines on her own, with or without me. She’s one of only four 7th graders on the team – and the only one that’s a starter. Oh, and by the way, she also plays for the JV team.
EK has been playing soccer since she was four and in addition to playing multiple games for her school weekly, she also competes on a Division I Select Soccer team that travels all over the southeast each weekend as part of the Alliance Futbol Club U13. This tournament team is currently ranked #1 in the state of Mississippi, #19 in Region III and #84 in the nation.
If you met EK in passing you would immediately notice her sweet smile, humble attitude, and respectful politeness, but when she puts on those shin guards and hits the soccer field, it’s ‘game-on’ and if you’re the one defending her, you better bring everything you’ve got because she will aggressively drive that ball to the net. The 5’6″ soon-to-be 13-year-old is racking up the scores with over 23 total goals for Varsity/JV soccer, including a hat trick. What’s crazy is that she still has five more years to pile up her stats!
I asked EK if there was a moment in play that stood out to her and she replied, “When I made the winning PK in a tie breaker shoot-out in the Adidas Premier Invitational semi-finals to send us to the Championship, which we won in Memphis, TN this year.” EK is also participating in the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program.
As I’ve said before, I hail from a sports family – each and every one of my nieces and nephews play at least one sport, if not multiple ones. Mom (a.k.a. The Coach) was a coach for 30 years (and once again out of retirement) and my son, Reid Garrett, has been a football videographer/high school recruit highlight specialist the last seven years for Mosley High School, Lynn Haven, FL. During that time he’s had two football video clips aired on ESPN and other numerous sports media outlets. I have five nephews that play football, basketball, baseball, soccer, run track, and participate in jujitsu and two nieces that play soccer and basketball. By the way, they aren’t just participants, they’re key players – family genes, I guess.
Somehow I foresee a ‘Coach’s Daughter Family Athlete Series’ in the near future…