After three straight seasons spent on the trainer’s table instead of on the field, Belton forward Jamie Boone finally got a chance to display her talent over the course of an entire season.
And she didn’t waste the opportunity.
Boone spent the first three years of her high school career dealing with myriad injuries that curtailed what could have been productive seasons. As a freshman, a goal fell on her foot, forcing her to miss games. As a sophomore, she tore a ligament in her right knee and missed the year. A year later, she tore the meniscus in that same knee and lost yet another season.
Finally, headed into her senior year at talent hotbed Belton, Boone couldn’t shake the nagging sense that she might never get a chance to spread her ability over a full season.
“I’m not going to lie, every time I played, every game this season was pretty much, ‘Don’t get hurt, don’t get hurt,’ ” she said. “Do your best, show them what you’ve got, but don’t get hurt.”
Boone finally avoided the injury bug this season and revealed herself as one of the area’s most feared attacking midfielders. Boone scored a whopping 36 goals, provided 12 assists and earned District 8-5A MVP honors for district champion Belton. Her ability to double as a goal-feeding midfielder and a dangerous striker made the Lady Tigers one of the toughest outs in the state.
After finally getting an opportunity to play an entire season, Boone’s prolific ability all over the field earned her the girls’ Super Centex Player of the Year award. Boone is the first Belton girl to win the honor since Chelsea Jones won it in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009.
“It really made me feel glad that I didn’t give up, that I kept going and trying to get better,” Boone said. “Basically it all paid off. I was being recognized after four years of trying to be recognized. It finally worked out.”
Boone’s story is one of perseverance. Thanks to truncated soccer seasons in each of her first three years at Belton, Boone went into overdrive after her junior year came to a close. Her meniscus healed, Boone entered herself in every soccer camp she could find to put herself in front of as many eyes as possible.
One of the obvious drawbacks to never playing a complete high school season is limited time to showcase for college scouts. It was a frustrating conundrum for a player with so much technical ability. In addition, Boone and her teammates had to get used to a new coach. Longtime Belton girls’ soccer coach Barry Elkins moved to UMHB after last season, and former North Richland Hills coach Wendy Knight took his place.
“It was difficult with our new coach because it was a whole different style to get used to,” Boone said. “I felt because I hadn’t been able to show what I had the last three years because I was always getting hurt, that this was my year and my last chance to really try and stand out as much as I could.”
Boone’s slavish dedication to soccer camps paid off last July. A good camp impressed Lubbock Christian University, which ultimately extended an offer that Boone accepted in February.
With that behind her, Boone flourished over the final months of her high school career. Instead of playing individualized boot-and-chase soccer as the Lady Tigers had done under Elkins, Knight installed a more holistic pass-and-move system that integrated more players.
The style suited Boone. She split time as an attacking midfielder and a striker, but the goals seemed to come either way. Thanks largely to Boone’s presence up top, Belton streaked to a ninth consecutive district title and made it to the second round of the playoffs.
“I give a lot of credit to Coach Knight, because every single practice we went to was a new challenge,” Boone said. “I could tell I was getting better. My shooting improved. I felt like my technique got a lot better because I was going to practice and being challenged and being taught the right way to do things.”
The season wasn’t without some injury-related tension. Early in the year, Boone developed worrying shin splints, which can develop spider cracks and ruin careers. For about a week, a frustrated Boone went to the trainer twice a day every day to monitor her shins.
Finally, Boone got the news she’d waited to hear for each of the past three years; that she could play. And play she did.
“To me, that was what was most important, being able to just play,” Boone said. “It just so happened that my hard work paid off.”
Newcomer: Midway’s Audrey Johnson
Audrey Johnson trained in Midway’s preseason workout camps without expectation. As a freshman entering a program coming off its third consecutive state tournament trip — and making a move up to Class 5A to boot — Johnson just wanted to make the team.
The midfielder did much better than that. She immediately became a cornerstone in the middle for yet another successful season of Pantherette soccer.
“It was really cool, because as a freshman I wasn’t really expecting to play a lot, but I did get to,” Johnson said. “Our season, we were expecting a lot because they made it to state last year. I thought we did good for pretty much a really different team than they had last year.”
Johnson came in as part of Midway’s first class to know nothing but 5A competition, and Johnson thrived under the pressure. She started in all 22 of Midway’s matches, finishing the season with 13 goals and six assists. She was a calming presence during a hectic District 8-5A year in which Midway finished second to Belton and then won its first playoff game as a 5A school en route to a 12-6-4 mark.
Fittingly, it was Johnson who booted the winning penalty kick to down Mansfield Timberview in the bi-district round.
As a box-to-box midfielder equally adept in tracking down loose balls and pushing high into the opponent’s third of the field, Johnson’s appeal was obvious to Midway coach Bill Sharp from her first practice. Sharp tends to employ a liberal substitution policy, but even as a freshman in one of the most demanding positions on the field, Johnson was rarely subbed off.
“I felt like at the beginning of the season we kind of struggled,” Johnson said. “But as the season went on, I just felt like my role became bigger, in that I had to work with my teammates more. They expected a lot of me because I was a central midfielder.”
Johnson was tasked with filling some big shoes as a youngster. Some of the best to ever play at Midway have called that position home, most recently Aleah Davis, who now plays at UTEP. She was able to step into a spot where Midway has excelled and uphold the legacy.
“I felt like there was a lot of pressure, but I felt like I just had to do my best and hope that I would come up to its standard,” Johnson said. “At first I was a little intimidated, but as the year went on we became more of a team. I felt like I wasn’t really known as the underdog or the freshman. We all just called each other teammates. It was really good.”
Coach: University’s Mike Chapman
No coach in the half-century history of Waco Tribune-Herald Super Centex sports teams has ever won a girls’ coaching award and a boys’ coaching award in the same season, let alone in the same sport.
For the past four seasons, Mike Chapman has coached the University boys’ and girls’ soccer teams with stunning results. While the boys’ team climbed to the ultimate height this year with a perfect season, the turnaround Chapman has engineered with the Lady Trojans is an accomplishment that ranks right with it.
When Chapman and assistants Ricky Perez and Cain Quiroz took over the girls’ program four years ago, it had never been to the playoffs. The Lady Trojans have been to the postseason every year since with escalating returns. University has won the district title in each of the past three years — the girls’ team had never won a title before Chapman’s staff took over — and the Lady Trojans made it to the regional quarterfinals this year, one step short of the regional tournament. It was the best run in girls’ program history, leaving University as the last area girls’ team standing.
It’s been an arduous task to pull the girls’ program out of the mire, but the Trojans can now call themselves a soccer school thanks mostly to the project taken on by Chapman and his staff. And the root of the project went beyond just the soccer field.
“When we first took over the girls, we had to instill with them the same thing that brought our guys to where they are today,” Chapman said. “There’s some things we’re going to take care of off the field, and that’s in the classroom. With our girls, just like our guys, they all know they’re going to be leaders. We tell them every day, if there’s 35 kids in that classroom and 34 are acting up, you’d better be the one acting the right way.”
The product on the field was undoubtedly noteworthy too. University went undefeated in district and lost just two games before meeting Magnolia in the regional quarterfinals. The Lady Trojans held a 1-0 lead when, with 11 minutes left in the first half, keeper Elsa Tellez was sent off for a clip in the box. Magnolia converted the penalty and then scored again in the second half while University had 10 players on the field.
University finished a sterling season 19-3-1, and the coaching staff is only looking for more improvement down the road.
“Our goal with them is, we’re going to keep improving. We’re going to get to the regional tournament,” Chapman said. “It’s just like we had a plan with the guys, we have a plan with the girls. Once we get to the regional tournament, that’s our goal first before we even start talking about the state tournament with them. And after we get there a few more times, we’re going to feel like we can be at the state tournament with the girls too.”
2013 GIRLS’ SUPER CENTEX TEAM
Player of the Year: Jamie Boone, Belton
Newcomer of the Year: Audrey Johnson, Midway
Coach of the Year: Mike Chapman, University
Forward Kaitlyn Escobedo University
Forward Kristen Hoelscher Temple
Forward Kaitlyn Wallace Lorena
Forward Hannah Wiley Temple
Midfielder Jamie Boone Belton
Midfielder Lundon Gutierrez University
Midfielder Kat Parker Belton
Defender Briana Davis Belton
Defender Kourtney Johnson Lorena
Defender Alyssa Paschal Midway
Goalkeeper Cameron Carter Midway
Honorable mention: Courtney Dippel and Aubrey Martinez, Belton; Alex Barragan, Gabby Ramon, Elsa Tellez and Allison Thomas, University
Sr, forward University
The Lady Trojans’ top option up top poured in 21 goals, five assists
UMHB commit had 26 goals despite missing four games
Scored 20 goals to bring career total at Lorena to 92
Had 25 goals, two late game-winnning shots, six assists.
Unstoppable in midfield and up top; 36 goals, 12 assists for title team
Fourth Super Centex nod with 18 goals, eight assists
Provided stability in middle with five goals, 10 assists
Stable force beyond experience; integral part in 19 shutouts
Repeat honoree led green defense that had 5 shutouts
Specialist scored eight goals off restarts; strong defender
Part of three state teams, Arkansas signee produced 13 shutouts
Started 22 games, scored 13 goals, had six assists
Guided team to 19-3-1, district title, regional quarters in fourth year