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Both boys and girls soccer teams get head coaches

Both AHS boys and girls soccer teams get head coaches
Posted on 06/09/2020

For the first time in Arlington High School’s history, both the boys and girls soccer teams will have head coaches. Until now, the teams were coached by one person, but as the program continues to expand, the need for two coaches has become greater.

“We’ve needed this for a long time,” said Principal Chris Duncan. “It’s a lot for one person to coach the whole year with no real break in between. Bringing on two coaches will allow both teams to get the quality time they deserve and will help the coaches prevent burn out.”

The coaches tapped for the jobs actually have very similar backgrounds. Both played collegiate ball and have experience coaching college athletes and high school-aged players.

Staci Murray-Owers will take over for the girls teams. Murray-Owers has spent the past four soccer seasons being an assistant coach at Christian Brothers University while also coaching at the youth level with the Collierville Lobos Rush. Originally from Southampton, England, she moved to the states in 2011 to play soccer at Tyler Junior College in Texas, where she was an All-District and All-Region player for the NJCAA National Champions as a freshman and First Team All-American as a sophomore. Murray-Owers also played Division 1 soccer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Staci Murray-Owers

“It’s one of my goals to bring the professionalism from the college level down to high school,” Murray-Owers said. “I want these girls to take advantage of the game 100 percent of the time they step on the field, and I want them to buy into the program. I hope they’re eager and ready to learn, connect as a team, connect with us as coaches and just put their heart into the game.”

Joining Murray-Owers on the boys team is Duncan Nicol, a native of North Delta, British Columbia, Canada who has been around the game since he was five years old. Throughout his playing career, Nicol has had the opportunity to play at various levels including winning the Canadian National Club Championships with his youth team North Delta United.

Duncan Nicol

Nicol attended Union University where he and his team won the NCCAA National Championship and went undefeated in all four years on their home field. Nicol’s coaching career spans many levels of the game. He’s been an assistant coach for the Union University women’s program, assistant coach at Collierville High School, head coach for both the boys and girls programs at Southwind High and a club coach with the Jackson Wolves and Collierville Lobos Rush Soccer Association.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit for this job to open up,” Nicol said. “I live in Lakeland, so not only is it close to my house but it’s also a great program at a great school. It’s an excellent opportunity.”

Like his new counterpart Murray-Owers, Nicol, who will still keep his full-time job as a marketing professor at Union University, said he wants to shape the program to mirror collegiate sports, and that starts with strong academics.

“I’m also a student advisor at Union, so it’s important that my players are organizing themselves as students and taking care of school first,” he explained. “That has to be first priority or their game will suffer because of it. My whole career has been oriented on teaching, and I treat coaching the same way. We’re not just coaching the kids, we’re teaching them life skills.”

From the start, the players will notice many similarities between the new coaches. Beyond having comparable backgrounds, Murray-Owers and Nicol also know each other from having coached club leagues and being active players in the community. Together, they hope to inspire Arlington players to work hard, dig in and play their hardest.

“As a coach, I’m passionate and love the game, but I hope I can put my passion into the girls and really make a difference in this squad,” Murray-Owers said. “Hopefully with the culture and standards that we’re going to set that we’ll be able to achieve that.”