TEGA CAY — Five youth soccer players have been playing together for three-and-a-half years in the Tega Cay Parks and Recreation League, with much success. The Green Machine boys’ team recently won their fourth consecutive division championship, going undefeated seasons in the U-10 league with a 45-0-1 record.
The five core members who have played together under coach Jon Jarrett include Eli Patrick, Jacob Vergara, Anthony Pontecorvo, Luka Milojkovic and Jarrett’s son, Gabriel Jarrett.
“One of them was a school friend and the other three were just randomly assigned on the U-8 team,” Jarrett said. “They just stayed together and played together for the last three-and-a-half years.”
Although most of the boys became teammates by chance, sticking together when moving up to the U-10 league has built a relationship between their families and has helped the team dynamic throughout the years. According to Jarrett, the returning players have shown positive leadership to other players who join the team.
“If you have a core group of kids, then you’re not trying to teach 12 kids the philosophy. You only have to teach half of the kids the philosophy,” Jarrett said. “So having a core group on the team definitely allows them to show the new kids the ropes, so to speak, and show them the system that I run.”
The consistency in players has helped the Green Machine build strong teamwork over the years. Jarrett said his team isn’t stacked with the most athletic kids, but they work well together to find success on the field.
“It wasn’t like we were just running over people and blowing by,” Jarrett said. “The way we won was good teamwork and passing the ball, trying to play soccer the right way and not just letting one kid dominate the game.”
Jarrett worked his team hard each season to get them to the championship level. The Green Machine is run more like a club team than a recreation team, with more practices and a more disciplined coach than the average team, Jarrett said.
According to Jarrett, coaching is about improving lives both on and off the field, which is something he has tried to do in his 23 years of coaching.
“To me, coaching is more than winning and losing the games. It’s about investing in the kids, trying to make them better kids and succeed not just on the field but in life,” Jarrett said. “At the end of the day I want them to win the right way, play the right way and I want them to be kids who are respectful.”
Although winning it isn’t his main goal, Jarrett and his team appreciates the success and he hopes to help the boys continue to play in the future.
“For me, the success is training the kids in how to play the game in the right way and watching the kids moving on,” Jarrett said. “My whole goal is to prepare them for the highest level of soccer that each kid can play.”
Jarrett hopes to see the kids he coaches go on to play at the club level eventually, but he expects to have his core group back to play in the U-13 league in the fall. Jarrett would like to build up a group of the best 10 and 11 year-olds to play at the U-13 level in hopes of improving them by allowing them to play against older kids and by entering them in club tournaments throughout the fall.