Being a leader for the Lakeside High School soccer team isn't just about showcasing your skills.
It's about working hard at every practice, running all-out on every wind sprint, shrugging off the pain and pushing aside any challenger.
Most of all, leading the Lakeside soccer team means not settling for second best.
That's why senior co-captains Stephen Newman, Michael Clark and Lee Vick are itching to hit the pitch this season.
Over the past three seasons, Newman, Clark and Vick have helped Lakeside rise to the elite level in Class AAAA. The Panthers have been to the state semifinals four straight years, and that means there is room for improvement.
"Going to the semis in my three years here is great and everything, but we definitely want to move on to the next level," Clark said. "We want to break through, get to the state championship and hopefully win. I think this year we're working harder. We all know what it takes."
Clark plays forward for the Panthers, and uses speed and intelligence to beat opponents.
"He's a silent leader," Lakeside coach Dave Morgan said of Clark. "He keeps everybody calmed down, and he knows how to get himself into position to score goals."
Vick's job is to prevent goals, and he has extra incentive this season. The goalkeeper missed most of his junior year with a knee injury, and now he is ready to re-establish himself in goal.
"Skill-wise and in leadership ability, I wouldn't trade Lee for any keeper in the state," Morgan said. "Having Lee in goal is like having a coach on the field. He knows the game so well."
Sitting on the sidelines last season didn't sit well with Vick.
"It really has made me want to come out here and make a statement, for myself and the team," he said. "I want to show that we're better than what we showed last year. We've been waiting for this season since the end of last season."
Newman also has a lot to look forward to - he has committed to play soccer at the University of South Carolina, but first, the center-midfielder has some unfinished business to take care of at Lakeside.
"We (the seniors) have one more chance to win a state title," Newman said. "We've been in the final four every single year. That's just not good enough for me."
As the Panthers' prime force in the midfield, Newman is expected to provide defense and offense, and he doesn't rest until the job is done.
"Stephen has just got fire for the game," Morgan said. "He's always going to play 100 percent and he won't ever give up. He's worked very hard to get where he's going."
Newman isn't shy about saying how he's gotten this far. "I think having God with you helps a ton," he said. "In years past I haven't played for the glory of Him, and I think we all are this year."
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