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New soccer coach underscores team unity, improvement

With the departure of previous girls’ soccer coach Garret Markarian, new coach Jennifer Tatum has taken over the team, striving to focus on unity and improvement of the small team.

Tatum’s passion for soccer led her to become a coach. She began coaching three years ago in Kansas for a boys’ high school soccer team and a boys’ club soccer team.

“I’ve played soccer for 16 years, in school and college, as well as club ball,” Tatum said. “I decided that the only way to stay connected to the sport and keep playing was to coach.”

Besides coaching, Tatum is working for her teaching credential and hopes to start teaching in January. She aims to become a teacher on campus, despite her busy lifestyle.

“I’m used to being busy, it keeps me going,” Tatum said. “I have to stay busy to stay sane. My life is a balancing act.”

On top of school and coaching, Tatum and her husband have two young children: Kaleb, 2, and 12-week-old Abigail. She was pregnant with both during coaching seasons.

“My children are my greatest accomplishment,” Tatum said. “They made me who I am today. Being a mother is very rewarding; I’m proud of them as well as my family.”

Since this is Tatum’s first year as a girls’ soccer coach, she faces different challenges than with her past experiences.

“Besides the fact that they are girls, this team is different from the boys’ teams I have coached,” Tatum said. “It is more of a challenge. The boys I coached were very experienced, and this year I’m coaching a more inexperienced team. I’m having to start from the bottom up.”

Senior Abbey Bauer acknowledges Tatum’s patience in coaching beginners, due to her continued efforts to help them improve.

“Coach Tatum is a great coach for beginners because even during frustrating times she has patience and gives us pointers,” Bauer said. “This is my first year playing soccer, and even though I haven’t been to many practices, she helps me during the games by telling me what I need to do and how to use it on the field.”

Although the small team consists of many beginners, Tatum holds high hopes for the season.

“There are not that many players, so it has been a struggle starting off, but I hope this season will be a positive experience,” Tatum said. “For me, it’s not about how many games they win or lose. I want this to be a building year and for the team to come together.”

Despite setbacks, Tatum understands the drive of the players to improve and succeed.

“To the girls, it doesn’t matter how small the team is,” Tatum said. “They always keep going and have a lot of drive. They never give up.”

Rebekah Wells, ’11, recognizes her personal improvement since Tatum began coaching.

“I’ve played soccer since kindergarten, and Coach Tatum is one of the top coaches I have had,” Wells said. “She inspires us to do our best during the games and is very encouraging. She’s helped me improve in certain skills, such as keeping my head up in the game and looking around the field.”

Melissa O’Leary, ’10, feels Tatum’s unique coaching ability is linked to her lighthearted personality.

“She’s a good coach because she’s easy to relate to since she’s young,” O’Leary said. “She’s funny and makes light of heavy situations. She’s really understanding and doesn’t make you feel forced to do anything, unlike other coaches.”

German exchange student Louise Klose, ’10, agrees with O’Leary that Tatum encourages them to try certain things, but leaves the choice up to them.

“She shows us many things to do but tells us that we don’t have to,” Klose said. “She tells us to have fun and makes us feel as if we don’t have to be perfect. I’m glad to have the opportunity to play on the soccer team here with Coach Tatum.”

Before each game, Tatum motivates the girls with prayer and uses Scripture to encourage them. She hopes to inspire the girls to improve and play soccer in the future.

For more information on soccer, check out the Girls’ soccer sport shorts, 2008-09 or the Sept. 25 article Players await soccer challenges, success or call Tatum at (559) 285-2882.

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  • J

    Julianne KingAug 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

    These Spanish games in class and at Spanish Club always get super intense. No way I wanted to lose at musical chairs! Sadly, I was the first one out.

  • J

    Jacob WilliamsAug 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I had no choice but to cheat. I was sabatoged. They stopped the music so that there was no way I could win. Plus they never said I couldn’t grab the chair before I sat in it 🙂

  • H

    Hannah PalmerAug 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Jacob Williams cheated to try and win “magical” chairs (in Austin’s words) but because Ashley is so AWESOME, she obvs totes won. Go best friend. 🙂