Club soccer in the Augusta area is about to get a me-first makeover.
The Columbia County Patriots, the North Augusta Kicks and the Aiken Soccer Club recently combined to form the Georgia-South Carolina Bulls.
Tryouts for the new club already have started in South Carolina. Tryouts will come to Columbia County beginning June 5.
The new club, which will fall under the same umbrella as similar Bulls clubs in Honolulu and San Francisco, will buck the traditional team-first mantra of recreational sports and focus on the individual first.
"All the club soccer in the area up to this point was all team-focused," Patriots technical director Forrest Wimberly said. "We were trying to build great teams, and we were really focused on what a team could do.
"The Bulls are different in the sense that we're not looking at the teams first; we're looking at the players first. You can't build a good team without good building blocks."
The idea to bring the Bulls to Augusta came from Patriots director Wes Meadows, who coached in Hawaii for four years. While there, Meadows worked with Phil Neddo, the Bulls' director of coaching, and took to Neddo's coaching philosophy.
Neddo was in town earlier this month to work with club coaches and administrators while the GA-SC Bulls await their own director.
The Augusta Arsenal represent the obvious omission to the merging clubs. Arsenal director Tom Norton said he was approached about joining the Bulls but decided not to participate based on the little information he had.
"I think, from a competitive standpoint, it's not a bad thing to have two clubs in town, or three clubs in town, to compete with each other," Norton said. "I think there's nothing wrong with everyone banding together and forming one club, but sooner or later somebody always breaks off and forms another club."
The Bulls will be a part of the Bulls clubs in Honolulu and San Francisco, down to the sharing of players and coaches.
Wimberly said players will be encouraged to reach their highest level and then will have the opportunity to "guest play" with the Bulls on the opposite coast.
"That's going to be the big-ticket thing, I think," Wimberly said. "There's always going to be a next level of competition. There's not going to be a ceiling."
Meadows said merger talks began in November 2007. Initially, he'd talked with Aiken Soccer Club about merging with the Patriots, and then he decided to adopt the Bulls system.
From there, the Bulls planned to merge only with the Patriots. But other area clubs showed interest.
"The most important thing that I've learned from the Bulls system is that the Bulls are a family, from the parents to the players to the coaches," Meadows said.
"I think that's very important to be successful as a club."
Players on the Patriots Select 10U soccer team wear their medals and pose after defeating Real So Cal 2-0 earlier in the year. Patriots director Wes Meadows (left) helped form the GA-SC Bulls through his relationship with Honolulu Bulls director Phil Neddo. The newly formed Bulls club is a combination of players from the Patriots, the North Augusta Kicks and the Aiken Soccer Club.
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