Lakeside High School's soccer teams came up short in Class AAAA state playoff semifinal matches last week, but coaches Donny Rogers and Dave Morgan each received a nice consolation prize.
Rogers and Morgan swept the Class AAAAA Coach of the Year awards, which were selected by the Georgia Soccer Coaches Association.
"This is a first for me, so it's pretty neat," Rogers said of earning the Coach of the Year Award for his work with the Lady Panthers. "All the credit goes to the girls. I provide the environment and they go out and produce."
Morgan, who has led the Lakeside boys to the state semifinals for four straight seasons, began his high-school coaching career at Academy of Richmond County. He took over as head coach at Lakeside in 1999, and has compiled a 77-20-5 win-loss record with the Panthers.
Additionally, Morgan coaches the Lakeside junior-varsity boys soccer team, but he doesn't mind pulling double duty.
"To me, soccer is the greatest game in the world," he said. "Coaching gives me the opportunity to stay active in the game and pass along what I have learned through my soccer experiences."
Dave Morgan has led the Lakeside boys to four consecutive state semifinal appearances.
Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
Morgan has coached Lakeside to four region titles, but he takes more pride in teaching life's lessons than in collecting championships.
"My high school coach (Harry Strickland of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga.) had one of the biggest influences on my life. If I can be the positive influence on my players that he was to me, records are unimportant. Teaching character, responsibility and the benefits of hard work and teamwork are most important."
When assessing success, Rogers also looks at the bigger picture.
"Winning championships is small potatoes compared to sending girls off to the next level," Rogers said of seeing his players move on to college soccer. "To me, that says more about your program than wins or losses. My job and duty is to help them get there."
For three seasons, from 1997-99, Rogers coached the Greenbrier Wolfpack soccer team, and he was an instant success with the upstart program. Under Rogers, the Pack won two region titles, advanced to the state semifinals in 1997, and made it all the way to the Class AAA championship match in 1999.
After Greenbrier lost to Marist in the finals, Rogers left the Brierpatch to pursue other business opportunities. Still, he couldn't resist the call of the pitch, and took over as Lakeside girls coach last fall.
Donny Rogers coached the Lakeside girls
to the state semifinals in his first season with the Panthers.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Being the new coach was a unique situation, and the girls could have made my job difficult," he said. "I'm demanding, but they worked hard. They wanted the discipline and regimen that I could bring to the program. At least that's what they told me."
The hard-line approach worked to perfection for the Lady Panthers.
"During the preseason, my goal was for us to go 10-8, and to finish with an 18-2-2 record is just beyond me," Rogers said. "We scheduled tough teams, and we beat them all. Now some of the top teams in the state are calling wanting to play us, and that's a huge accomplishment for the girls and the program."
The Lakeside boys also opened some eyes during the 2003 season. Despite injuries to some key players, Morgan guided the Panthers to a 16-5-1 record and the berth in the Class AAAA semifinals.
"The thing about high school sports is that every year your team is going to be different, but the quality is there," Morgan said. "The talent is coming up to the top now. More and more kids are playing soccer because they realize it's a great sport and they have fun playing it."
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