By Jimmy Swindler
RCHS Athletic Director
Rappahannock County High School soccer looks to hit the pitch running this spring with a full complement of teams, some welcome veterans at coaching spots and some exciting additions to our top-notch staff.
The boys’ soccer program will be headed by new varsity coach James Lofton. Lofton, who lived in Rappahannock County during his elementary school years, was an assistant coach with the U.S. Naval Academy’s men’s soccer yeam for the fall 2011 season. He is a 2011 cum laude graduate of William and Mary, where he played every position during two seasons and received the “most fit” award in 2011. Before playing at W&M, Lofton played two years at UNC-Greensboro.
At both schools, Lofton played on teams that advanced to the NCAA’s “Sweet Sixteen” round of playoffs. Lofton was an all-region and all-state player in high school for Eastern Mennonite High School, also named an NSCAA All American. Additionally he played travel soccer for Braddock Road Premier, helping them attain the Virginia State Cup Championship and a No. 13 national ranking, and he has played internationally with the DC United U-17 squad and other teams in international tournaments.
Lofton has been volunteering with the RCHS wrestling coaches and has met with RCHS athletes interested in trying out for the varsity squad, with a preseason conditioning program already in place. He is excited about the opportunity to bring his experience and energy to RCHS soccer and looks forward to improving on last year’s Bull Run District finish.
Lofton will be assisted by Andrew Weyer, who will be the new boys’ junior varsity soccer coach for 2012. Coach Weyer is a recent graduate of James Madison University and has been the assistant varsity and Junior Panther wrestling coach this winter at RCHS. Weyer played goalie on a standout team at Radford High School and has coached several youth league and rec teams since his playing days. He is looking forward to continuing to work with coach Lofton and leading the junior varsity team, preparing them for the varsity level of competition.
Our girls’ soccer program features a return of familiar faces at the coaching spots with the promise of renewed success on the pitch. Coach Rich Hogan returns to the helm of the varsity team, bringing his years of expertise to a young squad ready to compete in the Bull Run District. Hogan is a “D” licensed soccer coach – having studied under the famous Carl Grey. He has coached nine seasons with the Rappahannock Soccer league (multiple age groups and genders as well as serving a stint as league commisioner), has led the county middle school program for two years and spent seven years as the JV boys coach and assistant boys varsity coach under three different head coaches.
As girls’ varsity coach last season, he led the squad to a first-round district playoff win, losing to the eventual state champion. He was a standout lacrosse player in college himself, playing Division 1 lacrosse for Radford University, where he was team captain and leading scorer his junior and senior years and MVP his senior year. His dedication is already evident, as he is organizing preseason soccer workouts even while continuing to coach girls’ varsity basketball.
Hogan will be assisted by returning JV coach Cindy White, fresh from her stint of coaching the Junior Panther boys soccer team this past fall. White is a longtime soccer parent, with two sons having played for RCHS and a daughter on the varsity squad. A dedicated coach and RCHS sports supporter, White (and her family) spent part of her off-season helping to recondition the soccer practice field at RCES. With many years of rec-league, travel-league and school sports teams coaching experience, she will be preparing the junior varsity players in every possible way to be ready for the next level of play.
Last but certainly not least is returning girls’ JP soccer coach Natalie Hathaway. An alumni of RCHS, where she was a multi-sport varsity athlete, Coach Hathaway has had several years experience coaching the Junior Panther girls, leading them to postseason honors in the Valley Middle School Conference. Along with her longtime assistant Tom Pendleton, Hathaway prepares the girls with instruction based on soccer fundamentals that has brought them success not only on the field, but also at later levels of competition.
Spring sports practices officially begin Monday, Feb. 20. Signup sheets for all teams are posted now in the high school commons and the elementary school office. Official practice times and locations will be posted on practice calendars on the RCHS website at rappahannockathletics.org. The first home contests for varsity and JV boys’ soccer are 5:30 p.m. March 9 versus Culpeper, for varsity and JV girls’ soccer 5:30 p.m. March 16 versus Skyline, and for Junior Panther girls’ soccer at 5 p.m. March 15. All game schedules are posted on the athletic website.
Next time, baseball, softball and track!