McDERMOTT —The Northwest High School girls soccer program, per all accounts albeit in its infancy still, is ready to take that next step.
And in doing so, as unofficially announced late last week but confirmed on Friday, Mollie King will take over the Lady Mohawk reigns from Tim Amburgey.
Amburgey, on his social media platform late Thursday night, announced the changes — as King, an assistant with Wheelersburg for the past three seasons — will become the new head coach.
The Lady Mohawks are entering their eighth season, as King — a 2011 West Jefferson High School graduate and a 2016 graduate of Shawnee State University — is excited about her first head coaching position.
“I am very excited about this opportunity and helping continue to build the Northwest program. From what I’ve seen of the girls having coached against them while at Wheelersburg, they are a very respectful and good group of young ladies. I am very much looking forward to working with them. The program has some good young players coming up and they are working hard to get better and improve their ball skills,” said King, in a telephone interview on Saturday. “I’m ready for this to be my first head coaching opportunity. One of the main things we want to do is keep consistent numbers. Wheelersburg was over 30 girls for both junior varsity and varsity, and at Northwest, we want to be over 20, close to 25. That’s a lot of players in a high school soccer program when you consider only 11 start. The Northwest community is very supportive of its student-athletes and I am excited to be part of this program now.”
King explained that she has not yet held an official team meeting, which was supposed to take place last week — but that the Northwest district, along with ALL other school districts in Ohio —remain closed by the order of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine due to the Coronavirus threat.
She has had a chance to initially meet with a few individual players which are expected to take the pitch this August.
She also said that Amburgey would remain with the program as an assistant coach, which Amburgey confirmed in an e-mail response to questions from The Portsmouth Daily Times.
But King and Amburgey said they have good chemistry working with each other.
“Stepping away from the position as head coach was a tough decision to make. The team and parents have always been supportive, but I felt the timing was good for someone to take the reigns and help the program take another step forward. After several discussions with Coach King, we realized that we share a lot of the same approaches and she asked me to continue as an assistant coach. For some folks, that might seem like an awkward situation, but something seemed to click and she knows that I am there to support both her and the team’s success,” wrote Amburgey. “I think we realized that Coach King was the person for the job when she described the importance of building relationships with the team and the community. Additionally, she has a strong soccer background playing at the collegiate level for Shawnee State University and serving as an assistant coach for the Wheelersburg squad the past three years”.
King — although only five-feet, two-inches tall — was a jack-of-all-trades in her playing days, both at West Jefferson and at Shawnee State.
She excelled as a midfielder and defender with the Roughriders, earning all-league and all-Central District honors all four years, then was part of the SSU program for five years — red-shirting for the 2013 season.
She played primarily midfield up until the eighth match of her junior campaign, before becoming the full-time starting goal-keeper for her final year-and-a-half.
An all-Mid-South Conference All-Academic honoree, King completed her SSU keeper career tied for fourth all-time in wins with eight, fifth all-time in shutouts with five, and fifth all-time in starts with 13.
Wheelersburg girls soccer coach Todd Jarvis praised King for her work while as a Lady Pirate assistant of the past three seasons.
“Mollie sent me a text telling me she had accepted the coaching position with Northwest. I was very happy for her. Mollie played a big role as assistant coach in our program for the past few years. She’s knowledgeable about the game. She understands preparation. She was actively engaged in practices and was well-respected by the Lady Pirates. She will bring a lot to the Northwest program and she will work to see them develop as soccer players,” said Jarvis. “I told her I looked forward to seeing her in the fall, but this time we will see each other wearing opposing colors. But I am happy for her and this opportunity.”
While Northwest did graduate several key seniors, the Lady Mohawks do return the majority of their club.
King said her coaching philosophy will be dictated upon her personnel, but her preference is a strong midfield game and passing attack.
“We want our players to play to their strengths, but we definitely want to be attacking with the ball, but that all starts with passing and looking to pass and movement without the ball. We will do a lot of team drills with passing and just working on a wide range of ball skills. We also want to be solid up the middle,” she said. “We will have a lot of young players back, and we want to develop them to their fullest potential.”
And, as Amburgey said, part of that potential is the program taking that next step.
Now, King will reign over the Lady Mohawks.
“We (Lady Mohawks) have been making a slow climb to success in our short history as a team. Right now, we are on the cusp of deciding whether we can join the ranks of some of the better teams in southern Ohio. I can say with full confidence that we have gotten better each season. Other coaches will say the same thing,” wrote Amburgey. “We are just at a critical point in the program, and I believe that Coach King is the person ready to step in and get the job done”.
* * *
Jacob Smith, sports editor of The Portsmouth Daily Times, contributed to this report
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved