WEST JEFFERSON — With the recent departure of Ashe County High School men’s soccer coach Wes Rousseau in May, Sam Piercy was announced as the new head coach Monday, July 9.
Piercy, who has been an assistant coach at ACHS since 2011, lettered in track and cross country at Virginia Tech in the 1960s and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Since moving to Lansing in 2007, Piercy has coached recreation league soccer, middle school soccer and assisted at the high school with both men’s and women’s soccer.
“After this year, I’ll probably cut way back on what I’m doing with the program,” Piercy said. “I just wanted to give the new administration a chance to get settled in before they had to make a pick on who the new soccer coach was going to be.”
Piercy added that his main interest was having a good transition for the students with Rousseau leaving.
“With David (Koontz) coming in being the new athletic director and new principal (Amanda Hipp), I figured it was going to be tough on David, because he didn’t know a lot of the people here to come up with the right soccer coach for the future of the program,” Piercy said.
Koontz said Piercy’s coaching experience stuck out to him, as well as his willingness to help.
“Sam was one of the first ones to contact us when the vacancy came open,” Koontz said. “(He) said if (we) needed someone to step in, he’d be willing to do that. The big thing was that he had been a part of our program for so many years.”
Koontz also said the school wanted to reward Piercy for his loyalty to the program.
“He wants to help the program and continue what it’s been,” Koontz said. “I could tell right off the bat he was invested.”
Piercy said one of the reasons he is so invested is because he is now coaching the siblings of the kids he started out coaching.
“I’ve known the kids’ families for a long time, and I’d like to see them finish out their careers in a good way, have a good season and then I’ll be ready to hang it up,” Piercy said.
While this may only be a one-year venture for Piercy, he believes his team will be very competitive.
“We’ve got a core group of boys that we’ll be able to put on the field without having any weak spots,” Piercy said. “Frequently in high school soccer, you don’t have enough really good athletes to fill out a team. This year, I don’t think we’ll have a spot I’ll consider a weak spot. We’ll be very competitive.”
As head coach, Piercy plans to use multiple formations to adjust to each opponent. In the past, he said the team has often run a 4-4-2 formation, which Piercy said has worked well. However, Piercy said sometimes his team may move into an attacking mode and have a much more offensive-minded game plan. At other times, the team may run a more defensive-minded formation.
“We have the kids that can play different positions this year, so we’ll be able to manage those formations,” Piercy said.
One aspect of Rousseau’s coaching that Piercy wants to model is the relationship with the players. It is one of Piercy’s goals to make sure they enjoy the season.
“We’re going to work them hard, get them in shape and get them ready to play,” Piercy said. “But, at the end of the day, you want them to have fun and (enjoy) the experiences that come with (high school soccer).”