By Chris Chaney
Coming off back-to-back Southern Buckeye Conference National Division championships, the Batavia Lady Bulldogs will have a new coach prowling the sidelines as Drew Poling has been tapped by the athletic department to replace longtime coach Jamie Corns.
“I heard about (the opening) through friends of ours who live in the district, so I contacted the principal (Jamie Corrill),” Poling said. “I basically gave him my rundown of my abilities and experience and he invited me to come and basically try out with the team.”
Poling’s first encounter with the Lady Bulldogs came at the Xenia Preseason Soccer Tournament, an annual preparatory event that allows teams to get in some competitive reps prior to the beginning of the school year.
The Batavia staff were impressed enough by Poling to give him the keys to the girls’
soccer program, a storied and successful entity that ranks among the winningest in Clermont County over the past decade.
Poling got into coaching eight or nine years ago at the recreational level where he simply put on a whistle to help coach his children, however, his love for the game took him from rec soccer to club coaching and now has landed him at Batavia.
Entering into a program already in great shape, Poling hopes to continue the winning ways for the Lady Bulldogs who have won nine league titles in the last 10 years.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen all the players yet, because they haven’t come out to (the workouts) because they’re not mandatory, but I just want to see some good soccer,” Poling said of his initial expectations. “I want to see a good possession game, good footwork, good teamwork and good camaraderie. I think that makes for a strong foundation for a good program.”
Despite not knowing all of his personnel, Poling should like what he sees in the coming days with tryouts kicking off on Aug. 1. The Lady Bulldogs that went 16-1 in the regular season and 10-0 in the SBC lost seven seniors to graduation, but a solid core of younger talent will be taking over the reigns in 2013-14.
Bri Osborne, a junior defender, is a returning First Team All-SBC selection. Fellow junior Gabby Bond and seniors Hannah Nelson, Erin O’Brien and Allison Wagoner, all Second Team selections a year ago, will also bring experience and talent to the Lady Bulldogs’ lineup.
Poling said his coaching style is based upon a strong core of good players, but without knowing the full depth of his lineup, he hopes to incorporate a sound tactical and technical style of play with an emphasis on possession.
“Wins are byproduct of good preparation,” Poling said. “I’m not going to focus on wins and losses; I’m focused on building and developing each player as an individual while also making the team stronger.”
Poling and the Lady Bulldogs, who will have an official team assembled by Aug. 5, have a handful of scrimmages on the docket before beginning regular season play about two weeks later when they travel to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy for their first match on Aug. 20.
League play will begin just two days later with their first SBC-National contest coming on Thursday, Aug. 22 at CNE.