Camaraderie Carries the Choctaws By: Damon Wright
In the history of sports, there have been many good teams: teams that have enough talent to take themselves deep into a playoff or tournament in hopes of playing for a national championship and realizing the dream of being immortalized in the history books as the best team of that specific year. These good teams can be celebrated and praised for their achievements, but they come up just short of greatness. There is a fine line between a good team and a great team, and in many instances, that line is the camaraderie present on a team.
The Mississippi College Men’s Soccer team is led by head coach Kevin Johns, who is in his 16th year at the helm of the program, and he has recognized the strong feeling of teamwork has enveloped the team, on and off the pitch: “The depth and camaraderie of this team has been a massive boost for us … it is a hard working group of guys that care about each other; they do a lot of things off the field and they get along together and it really carries over to the field, and I think that is one of our biggest positives,” said Johns.
The team is currently 4-2 and is coming off a huge GSC win over rival Delta State, a game in which the Choctaws came behind from a 2-0 deficit to win by golden goal in the 107th minute. The Choctaws will have a stretch of 8 GSC games to finish out the season, which will begin Friday against the Shorter Hawks and Sunday against the Lee Flames. Both games will be at home, weather permitting.
Junior defender Connor Johnson has been happy with how the team has performed so far but is looking for improvements as the season progresses: “I think it has been up and down; we have had the highest of highs like beating #9 West Alabama at home, but we have also had the lowest of lows, losing against Alabama Huntsville, and then a big win against Delta State. It has been up and down; we would like to have a little more consistency,” Johnson said.
This consistency will be needed for this bout of GSC matches, which includes a 5-game stretch where the Choctaws will not be on the home pitch. Though the games will be a difficult, wins will be crucial, and senior forward Joshua Robinson says that the team is prepared for the challenge ahead: “We’re ready. We have a few training sessions before our game against Shorter; we are hitting the ground running, we are going strong as a unit, and we are eager and excited to see what the future holds,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who also received GSC player of the week honors at the beginning of September, is looking to see the team improve mentally for the remainder of the season: “Usually what I would say needs improving is having cohesion, but we already have that strength and unity, so the most important thing to me is our mental game — going out there with the hunger and the passion I feel like we have been lacking, but it can improve,” said Robinson.
Coach Johns is confident with this team, especially going into the most important stretch of the season. Johns says that the depth of the team is something he has never seen before and that will be a big help to finish the season: “Every game in this conference is extremely important. I have told the guys multiple times that pretty much every game is the championship because every game has so much meaning. It is a one game at a time mentality … the depth is so strong and will be crucial for these games, and we are confident that we can bring in anybody off the bench, and they can before just as good as the guy in front,” said Johns.
Connor Johnson is excited for the future of MC soccer and looks to leave a mark of success on an already established powerhouse program: “Hopefully the future holds a regular season championship and then a conference championship. My freshman year we won the regular season, and we just hope to win a championship this season. That is our main goal,” Johnson said.
Senior Joshua Robinson has given his all to this program and has the same goal in mind: “I want to be remembered as that one British guy that came here and did his job and left with his head held high and hopefully a ring around his finger,” Robinson said.