Granby: Panther soccer team kicks off competition this week | SkyHiNews.com

Granby: Panther soccer team kicks off competition this week

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

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Middle Park High’s boys soccer team will literally kick off the 2008 season Thursday in an away game at Gypsum.

The Panthers will be taking on the Devils of Eagle Valley High School. The junior varsity game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., followed at 5:30 p.m. by the varsity contest.

This year’s Middle Park team is led by a new head coach, Shawn McElroy, who is the owner of the Rocky Mountain Coffee Company in Grand Lake. He played two years of varsity soccer in college before joining the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a fighter pilot for 23 years. During his military service, he coached a variety of youth soccer programs.

Since retiring, McElroy continued coaching youth soccer programs as well as coaching high school soccer in Glenwood Springs, Coalridge and Rifle. He has received coaching certificates through the National Soccer Coaches Association and the United States Soccer Federation.

“I and the team are really looking forward to the start of this season,” McElroy said.

“The guys on the team have a great attitude and are adjusting to my coaching style.”

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At present, the roster for the Panther soccer team has 34 players, including:

Varsity ” Robert Johnson (captain), Tim Leman (captain), Dylan Foley, Bartosz Koczera, Walter Shoup, Joey Coucke, Max Meredith, Elliott Levett, Lucas Mendez, Connor Barnes, Nate Birdseye, Oscar Hernandez, Erik Hetzler, Ben Welcome, Kyle Potts and Jordan Lenhard

Junior varsity ” Mitch Steffen, Josh VanNatta, Simeon Anderson, Patrick Barker, Ramsey Blahnik, Justin Bondi, Justin Coucke, Brandon Cronin, Evan Debakker, Joshua Leman, Matt Risley, Ziggy Rohloff, Brandon Rosas, Erik Saffell, Sean Saffell, Michael Sobon and Andrew Tekansik.

“We have good returning numbers, as well as nine freshman, which I’m really pleased about,” McElroy said. “We also have a good group of seniors who are returning after a successful season last year. They are working hard and are making themselves felt in the leadership department. I have high hopes for them.”

Joining McElroy in coaching this year’s team are assistant coaches Darren Zunno, Byron Hetzler and Carlos Mugniani.

“I have also a great staff of assistant coaches who have a great deal of experience as well,” McElroy said. “They have been an awesome addition and Byron has been especially helpful since he is the only returning coach from previous years.”

Looking ahead to both Thursday’s opener as well as the rest of the 2008 season, McElroy is upbeat.

“Our players are eager and have good technical skills,” he said. “If they play up to the level they are capable, they will do well. I’m feeling good about this season and I think they feel that way too.”

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