BATH – Prior to his team’s 8-0 win over Carson City-Crystal in the opening round of the district tournament, Bath girls soccer coach Jordan Parks overheard one of his players make a victory proclamation before even touching the field.
It was a bold move, given the history of the Fighting Bees’ program, but it showed Parks the difference a year makes.
“One of the players in the pregame told another player, ‘I feel really bad for the team we’re playing against because I know how they feel. I felt that way last year,'” said Parks. The first-year coach took over a Bath program that had failed to post a winning record in its four years of existence. “Last year, our girls lost to Lansing Christian in the districts and got blown out. The girls understand what it’s like to lose several games.
“It was empowering for me to hear because that’s a great transformation. To feel like a struggling program one year and then being able to dominate some of the teams in your area.”
After going 2-7-1 last season, the Division 4 Fighting Bees posted a 14-3 record in Parks’ first season. Parks, the State Journal girls soccer coach of the year, said he didn’t know much about the program’s back story before he accepted the job and that he wasn’t too familiar with a lot of the people involved in the program.
“I didn’t know where I would start at the beginning of the season: teaching the basics or having a complex team,” he said.
Parks quickly found out about his team’s abilities in the first game of the season against the Lansing Homeschool team. Going into the game, Parks said he was intimidated by the number of players on the opposing side and the actions of the coaches.
“I thought I might get exposed here fast,” said Parks, whose team won the match, 2-0. “I had only seen our team practice. That was the first time I realized we could potentially win some games this year.”
Bath went on to pick up some big wins in the later moments of the season. A come-from-behind victory over Stockbridge was a signature win for the first-year coach, as well as a 1-0 win over Dansville with some of his top goal scorers going down with injuries during the match.
However, Parks still blames himself for his team’s three losses this season — especially the 1-0 loss in the district semifinals to Saginaw Nouvel, a game he felt he didn’t prepare his team for.
“You’re never satisfied,” said Parks, who resigned at the end of the season due to other commitments. “Our district (semifinals) game for example, we lost on a direct kick. I have little experience coaching against direct kicks and we didn’t have much experience practicing against direct kicks.
“It was a learn-as-we-go situation. There were a strong group of girls at the beginning of the season, even from last year’s team. But they didn’t have enough. We had seven high-quality freshmen enter the program as well. We definitely felt some momentum throughout the year.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.