When the Pensacola Sports Association called Catholic High girls soccer coach Breck Smith to ask her if she would like to coach the West Team for today’s Subway High School All-Star High School Soccer Game, Smith didn’t hesitate to say yes.
In fact, the veteran coach was considering volunteering for the job before she got the call. One glance at the West Team roster for the 5 p.m. game — which matches up the top senior players from Escambia County against their counterparts in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties — and it’s easy to see why Smith jumped at the opportunity.
Not only will Smith get to coach the top players from Escambia County, seven of those players are her very own Crusaders, who advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals this year.
“There are so many great kids out there, every coach wants a chance to coach them,” said Smith, whose West Team will play the East at Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex. “So it’s going to be fun, it really is.”
Standouts from PHS, Escambia, East Hill, West Florida, Tate and Washington join the Crusaders on the West Team.
Crestview coach Danielle Phillips will be guiding the East Team, made up of players from Pace, Milton, Gulf Breeze, Crestview, Niceville, Rocky Bayou Christian, Fort Walton Beach and Navarre.
Milton head coach Rigo Hernandez is heading up the East All-Star Team for the boys, who will take on the West following the girls’ game. The West Team will be coached by East Hill’s Marvin Denney.
Another factor that makes the all-star games significant is that it will be the last high school game for the players, many of whom will go on to play at the college level.
“My challenge will be that I have 22 of the most talented seniors in Escambia County, and I’ll have to make sure to play them all,” Smith said. “It can be stressful as a coach when you don’t have enough players, but having so many talented players can be stressful, too.
“But it’s actually really great to have all of these kids and get the opportunity to coach them all.”