Q&A With New Union Pines Boys' Soccer Coach Jeremiah Johnson
Union Pines named Jeremiah Johnson as its new boys head soccer coach Thursday. F.W. Manning II recently spoke with the new Union Pines head man about his new job and his vision for the program. Here is a transcript of the interview conducted Friday afternoon:
Pilot Sports: When did you get word it was official that you were the UP boys' soccer coach?
JJ: I was called and informed that I had been offered the position on Aug. 13 and was told that it wasn’t completely official until my background check came through. The “official” word was given to me yesterday, Aug. 19, just before practice.
PS: How long have you been in Moore County and where were you before then?
JJ: I moved to Moore County when I was seven and grew up in the Moore County school system.
PS: Please give me your school background starting with the high school.
JJ: I grew up in the Moore County school system (Southern Pines) and Pinecrest, where I graduated in 1995. After graduating high school, I joined the Air Force. I began college later, beginning in 2005 at Fayetteville Technical Community College and transferred to UNC Charlotte in the spring of 2007. I graduated with a B.A. in History from UNC-C in May 2009.
Since then, I have been attending UNC-Pembroke, working on a B.A. in English and political science and should be re-attending UNC-C in January where I will be embarking the beginning of my master's of arts in teaching.
PS: Tell me about your athletic background?
JJ: I was a multiple-sport athlete at Pinecrest. I ran track (indoor and outdoor) for four years, soccer for three years, and swimming for two years. Beyond high school, I mainly played soccer since that has always been my true passion.
I played soccer for the Andrews Air Force Base team. We would play local colleges and tournaments. After my military career, I played in some adult leagues and when I went to UNC-C, I played in the intramural program (indoor and outdoor) as well as playing for the UNC-C club soccer team.
PS: What are the qualities that you feel make for a successful coach of student athletes in the high school sports arena?
JJ: I feel that a coach is there to assist the players in bettering their talents not only on the field, but also off the field. They are called student-athletes and student comes first. I am a set of eyes who watches and instructs the players. I am capable of seeing things that they do either good or bad and reflect on that. A good coach does not over-criticize his players. Instead, they teach and allow them to help in that process as well.
PS: What is your opinion on the current state of Viking boys’ soccer?
JJ: After coaching the boys this week, I see great potential in them and their season ahead, both JV and Varsity. They show that they have heart and that they have the drive for a winning season.
PS: Do you have a soccer philosophy?
JJ: Pass, pass, pass; all the great teams are passing-oriented and tire out their opponents. It is much easier to pass the ball around your opponents instead of trying to dribble it through them. If the players give me 100 percent, I will give them 100 percent-plus.
PS: Why do love you this sport?
JJ: The fact that I have played this game now for 25 years and still trying to when I am on that field is a big part of it. I do not worry about what is going on. I feel free and happy. I feel that it has taught me through the years about the art of teamwork and that it is all right to rely on others in situations.
PS: Describe, if you could, your feelings about being the head soccer coach at Union Pines?
JJ: When I was notified of the offer after the interview process, I have not been happier. My friends and family have seen a great change in me since I have become the Head Coach. They see the light that once glowed years ago when I was playing more.
PS: What are your short term goals for this first season?
JJ: The main goal is to win our conference. I honestly believe the guys have the potential to do so. I also plan to get out and watch the middle school players and see who I will have coming to UP next year. My hope is to build a program with the teams I have now and carry on a tradition. To do that, I want to help the older guys become fine young men and grow with what they have taken from the experience, while in turn passing it on to the younger guys.
PS: Do you have a mission statement or mantra and if so what is it?
JJ: I do not actually have a set statement, but just a few things that I live by as well as a favorite quote. For me life as well as soccer is about giving it your all, while having honesty and integrity in everything you do and. The quote is by R.W. Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
PS: Finally, why do you think you are the man for this job?
JJ: I feel that I can teach these kids some things about the game by passing my knowledge and experiences from both in soccer and in life on to them. I have worked with kids in some form since I was 14. I began coaching and refereeing soccer at 14. Also, I was a camp counselor, and a part of the “big brother” program so I can relate with the kids in some form and make the experience fun.
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