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Words of Wood- Hoover Soccer Roots

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                                          Hoover Bucs Soccer Roots
                                                      By Wayne Wood
   “It might not be in my lifetime but soccer might be more popular than football” remarked Coach Bob Finley to a few of us coaches back in 1991. What Coach Finley was referring to was the fact that the growing interest in soccer participation was steadily increasing in the city of Hoover as well as certain other communities in the Birmingham area and across the state in the 1980’s. Soccer interest had already taken a strong hold in several places across the nation coming in from countries where it was the main sport. The state of Alabama was slowly accepting it.
   Coach Finley treated his football field at Berry High School like a carefully manicured garden spot especially in the spring time. It didn’t exactly capture his favor when people did more than the average number of activities on it. There were track & field activities on it every spring of course. Students were finding the sport of soccer to their liking & interest year by year thus he had to learn to adapt & change though not without reservations.
   The AHSAA eventually sanctioned the sport of soccer for those schools able to field a team or teams for interested student/athletes. The Bucs began programs in the early 1990’s for both the boys & girls and there were several high school athletes who had trained at an earlier age in park & recreation leagues. Hoover was also one of those big city suburb areas where occasionally professional people from other countries moved in bringing their children who knew no other sport but soccer. Of course, there were skilled athletes who could play a variety of sports and soccer was one of them.
   Bob Finley was the Buccaneer athletic director and was obligated to provide as many sports opportunities as possible to interested students. Yet he did so with a positive pioneering spirit unlike many hesitant school officials & athletic directors in the state at the time.
   Former Berry High School head principal Jo Ann Pritchett who served from 1978-1988 made this comment. “When soccer came to Berry there was no money to select a soccer coach so Bob took the job. I really did not understand the game well. I said to Bob in the stadium one day, ‘How do you know when they score?’ He said, ‘Mrs. P (that’s what he always called me), when the ball goes by that person guarding the net and the ball gets into the net, that’s a touchdown.’ My reply was ‘Okay.’ He took a real interest in it although he had never coached it before.”
   Eventually, Coach Finley named one of his assistant football coaches (offensive line coach Jerry Mahon) to head the program as he would help sponsor it as the school official. One of the early star athletes on the girls soccer team was Brigid Meadow who was also a star basketball player and had once started on the middle school football team at Simmons as a 7th & 8th grader. A great all-around athlete and probably the most competitive athlete (boy or girl) in Buccaneer history, Brigid helped lead the Lady Bucs to 3 straight state titles from 1991-1993. The titles were the very first in state history as well. She later signed to play basketball & soccer at Wofford College in South Carolina and later came back to Simmons Middle School to teach & coach. She eventually became the head girls soccer coach at rival Vestavia High School where she’s had much success.
   When Berry became Hoover High School in 1994-1995, a soccer field had been developed essentially as a soccer field. Now the football team might practice on the soccer field instead of the soccer team practicing on the football field. In time, improvements were made such as a field house/stadium seating, two team indoor sections, a scoreboard, lights, etc. for proper official game situations.
   The competition around the state increased to a more than respected level. Several Buc boy & girl soccer athletes have signed scholarships to at colleges across the nation.
   Locally, the city of Hoover has decided to build a major sports complex next to the longtime used Hoover Met & nearby Hoover High School. Among the many features (indoor & outdoor) will include soccer/football fields. So major improvements are coming soon for the community.
   Following is a list of the Alabama high school state soccer champions (large school division only). The Bucs are indeed proud of their accomplishments in all sports.
          Girls Soccer                            Boys Soccer
1991..Berry/Hoover                     1991..Vestavia
1992..Berry/Hoover                     1992..Grissom
1993..Berry/Hoover                     1993..Central-Tuscaloosa
1994..Mountain Brook                 1994..Grissom
1995..Mountain Brook                 1995..Vestavia
1996..Grissom                            1996..Grissom
1997..Grissom                            1997..Grissom
1998..Grissom                            1998..Grissom
1999..Grissom                            1999..Grissom
2000..Huntsville                          2000..Grissom
2001..Vestavia                           2001..Shades Valley
2002,,Huntsville                          2002..McGill-Toolen/Mobile
2003..Bob Jones                         2003..Hoover
2004..Spain Park                        2004..Shades Valley
2005..Vestavia                           2005..Oak Mountain
2006..Grissom                            2006..Shades Valley
2007..Vestavia                            2007..Oak Mountain
2008..Mountain Brook                  2008..Oak Mountain
2009..Spain Park                         2009..Fairhope
2010..Spain Park                         2010..Grissom
2011..Spain Park                         2011..Oak Mountain
2012..Oak Mountain                     2012..Auburn
2013..Mountain Brook                   2013..Vestavia
2014..Oak Mountain                      2014..Vestavia
2015..Oak Mountain                      2015..Oak Mountain
2016..____________                      2016..____________
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