News

Coach Hellier Named MDJ Boys Soccer Coach of the Year
Categories: General, Athletics
Posted: 6/21/2017

Congratulations to Coach Steve Hellier for being named the Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Soccer Coach of the Year! 

From the Marietta Daily Journal - June 14, 2017

From not fielding a team at all to winning a Class A state championship over archrival Walker, all it took was four years.

When the 2013 season came around, the numbers were so low that Whitefield Academy could not field a boys soccer team. It came dangerously close to not having a team the following year, but with help from seniors who had not played competitive soccer, the Wolfpack had just enough players.

Whitefield won four games in its first year back, with two of them coming against winless Christian Heritage.

When coach Steve Hellier returned to the program in 2015 as an assistant, after previously serving as head coach from 2002-10, the Wolfpack managed five wins with mostly an underclassmen team. Those five wins were good enough for a berth to the state tournament, and even though Whitefield lost in the playoffs, Hellier encouraged his players to use the experience as a springboard.

Whitefield improved to 12 victories last season and a second-round appearance in the state tournament, with a team of mostly sophomores and juniors. The Wolfpack upset Lakeview Academy 4-0 in the opening round and used that as motivation for 2017.

Hellier was elevated to head coach prior to the season and was given an experienced group of upperclassmen coming off back-to-back postseason appearances.

While this year’s Whitefield team may have not been the most talented team in Class A, it was one of the most experienced and well-coached, and both came in handy in the Wolfpack’s journey toward winning the state title.

“We came into this season with enthusiasm because we got into the playoffs the year before,” said Hellier, the 2017 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. We were returning all of our players, and we had some positive hopes moving forward.”

The Wolfpack were not overly concerned early in the year, after losing to 2016 Class A champion Paideia and eventual Class AAAAAAA runner-up Pebblebrook. However, a 1-0 loss to Kell on March 11 at the Tournament of Champions on Jekyll Island forced the team to re-evaluate itself.

“That was a time when everyone was getting frustrated,” Hellier said. “After the game, we talked about the fact that we had to commit to being a group of brothers, or we weren’t going to be successful.”

The Kell game ended up being Whitefield’s final loss as it went on to end the season with 15 straight wins.

Hellier kept the game plan simple. He wanted his team to focus on passing the ball and keeping possession. He often talked about receiving the ball and then getting rid of it.

This year’s team also used a variety of players to finish instead of depending on one forward.

“We didn’t make a complex scheme,” Hellier said. “We spent all season reinforcing the basics of two-touch passing.”

The turning point of the season came when Whitefield upset Walker 3-0 at home to win its first area title. Once the Wolfpack got into the state tournament as a No. 1 seed, they kept reminding themselves that “we have one more game to win.”

That mindset helped Whitefield survive a 1-0 bout against Atlanta International in the quarterfinals before it rematched with Walker for the state championship in Macon.

The Wolfpack bested the Wolverines once again, winning by a 2-1 score.

“We knew that Walker was going to come into that game with a desire to have revenge on us,” Hellier said. “We knew they got robbed in our place, and we had to truly prove that were the better team against Walker.”