RIPLEY – It’s a new day for the Ripley Lady Vikings soccer team, as new head coach Chris Stout takes the reigns of the program in 2014.  Stout, who played soccer at Ripley High School and previously coached in the Ripley Youth Soccer League, is looking forward to the challenge of coaching at a higher level.  However, he admitted that he has some catching up to do, specifically when it comes to girls high school soccer.  
Fortunately for him, assistant coach Melanie Pierson is familiar with the team and has gotten him up to speed.
As for his team, the Lady Vikings are loaded with returning experience and are looking to put that experience to good use this season.
“One third of the team is seniors, so I’m relying heavily on them,” Stout said, “This being my first year with the ladies, those five are much more familiar with the team than I am and I’m constantly seeking their input on everything from strategy to team dynamics.  They have done a great job stepping up and showing the characteristics that team leaders need to be effective.”

Even with the senior leadership, the Lady Vikings have several young players that will play a significant role this season.  Stout indicated that his team would have to overcome this lack of experience.
“We have a young team and they are facing a steep learning curve in regards to the large jump in competitiveness that exists at this stage,” Stout said, “There are a few established powerhouses that we’ll go up against and it might be an eye-opening experience for our younger players.  We have a lot of potential, we just need to work on building the necessary confidence to see that possibility realized.”
Despite their inexperience, Stout was pleased with his team’s willingness to listen and learn. And also praised their overall attitude.

Stout hopes that it will be that teamwork and togetherness that will help the Lady Vikings achieve their goals this season.  As for his expectations for his team, Stout wants his team to take it a game at time.
“We’ve focused on setting small, step-by-step goals that will hopefully progress as the season does,” Stout said, “Winning more games than last season and allowing fewer goals against. I see tremendous promise in this squad and want to do all I can to ensure each player can take something positive from the season, whether that is games won, skills gained, or just enjoying the experience.”
The Lady Vikings will open their season at home today when they take on the Poca Lady Dots.  The game is scheduled to begin at noon.