NEWPORT—The summer of coaching changes isn’t over yet.

Cocke County High School has announced that CCHS and Carson-Newman alum Mikayla Gregg will take over the girls’ soccer program beginning in 2019.

“Getting the position of head coach is such an excitement for me,” Gregg said. “I’m excited just to impart my love and knowledge of the game to the team. I’m excited about what’s ahead for us this season.”

Gregg has served as assistant for the Lady Red under head coach Christi Jones for the last two seasons. The two will effectively be switching roles going into the 2019 season, as Jones has agreed to stay on as an assistant with Gregg.

Playing her high school career for two years at CCHS, and another two years at Berean Christian, Gregg would go on to compete collegiately at Carson-Newman where she earned All-SAC honors in the South Atlantic Conference. After graduating from C-N in 2016 she quickly found herself on the coaching scene as an assistant, and did so back at her home school in Newport with the Cocke County Lady Red.

Now entering her first stint as a head coach, having the familiarity with the team she inherits will go a long way in aiding her first-year efforts as the program’s leader.

“Being assistant the past few years has allowed me to get to know the girls in the program very well,” Gregg said. “Knowing most of the team, and not having to start from scratch isn’t just a benefit for me, but the girls as well.

“We can continue to build on what we’ve done the last few years, and having the familiarity with the team will only serve as a benefit going into this season.”

Gregg inherits a roster that loses four seniors from last season’s team, including the team’s leading scorer in Mackenzie Souder, along with Juliana Perez, Madison Hall and Casey Wilson. Assuming everyone returns, her first team as head coach will boast at least five seniors along with a wealth of underclassmen that could hold a bright future for the program.

“We have all new levels of players coming into this season,” Gregg said. “We’re going to get started a little earlier this year with a few camps over the summer, which I think will really help us going into the season.”

Beyond winning as many games as possible, Gregg plans to implement a system for the team to set both team and individual goals for each player coming into the season as a way to give each member of the team something to strive for before season’s end.

“I like to set goals with the team at the beginning of each year,” Gregg said. “We’ll choose our goals as a team. Of course we want to win, but we also want to grow within the game. Once July rolls around we’ll set that goal for the season and immediately get to work to attaining it.

“In sports the goal is to win, and to do it as much as possible. With this being my first year as head coach, though, I just want to see growth as a team. We can improve in areas every single game whether we win or lose. I want the team to understand that it’s possible to improve even if we don’t pick up the win each time out.”

Off the pitch, Gregg has lofty goals for her team as well. While she wants to see the program flourish within the game of soccer, she wants them to flourish even more in the game of life. And that all begins in the classroom, well before hitting the practice field.

“I want us to grow with soccer, but also academically,” Gregg said. “I’d like for us to have the highest GPA of any sports program at the school by year’s end. It’s so important to do as well in the classroom as we do on the pitch.”

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