Jared Reel’s first season as the head coach of the Mississinewa Indians was full of ups and downs.
While the Indians had a plethora of talented pieces, they were an incredibly young and inexperienced group, and it showed throughout the course of the season.
In all, Mississinewa finished with five wins, but heading into year two of his tenure, Reel and the Indians are fully committed to building the Mississinewa boys soccer program into one steeped with both tradition and success.
“This always takes time and effort,” Reel said. “But I am pleased with how we are transitioning from merely having a soccer team to having a successful soccer program.”
Throughout the summer, the Indians have not only built on their individual skills, but have also focused on team bonding and finding the chemistry needed to be a great soccer team.
After a tough first season, Reel is proud of how his group has both matured and improved during the course of summer workouts.
“I believe we are getting better each day,” Reel said. “The players are starting to buy in to what it takes to be a winning team. Many of them worked hard in the offseason and so far have come into this season with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. My seniors have been some great leaders in the offseason. I believe we will be more successful this season and may surprise some teams. Some of our issues last season were team chemistry and discipline. We have gelled well this summer and I have seen several players mature and understand what it takes to [win.]”
Unlike many of the teams in Grant County, the Indians did not suffer much roster turnover, graduating just four players. They return their top two goal scorers in Colin Yoder (16) and Holden Brown (11), along with a young defensive group that should take a significant step forward in 2019. Furthermore, players like Thomas Steelman and Noah Drake have really grown as senior leaders, helping the younger players keep on the right path.
“They are competitors and hate to lose,” Reel said. “I emphasize this in our program that players should hate losing more than the hard work done in training. I believe that if we work as a team, there should be no reason that Noah, Thomas, Holden Brown, or Colin Yoder won’t have double digit goals by the end of the season.”
With the graduation of Connor Layman, the Indians will realize one significant void: goalkeeper. However, Reel likes what he has seen from senior Cody Nantz and sophomore Austin Long. Both could see significant time between the pipes this coming season.
“Our goalkeepers have been working hard this summer as well,” Reel said. “Cody and Austin both have put in the work in the off season. I feel confident in both guarding our goal.”
Along with all the young talent they already possess, the Indians also have a pair of freshman, Evan Yoder and Tyler Cook, who could see the field regularly.
“The both had really good seasons in the spring at RJB,” Reel said. “I believe they will be successful this year once they get accustomed to the speed of play at the high school level.”
Last year, it was all about laying the foundations. This year, Reel and the Indians are ready to take the next step.
“If we can stay healthy, I believe we can set a new record for wins at Mississinewa and make a run in our sectional,” Reel said. “I am excited for the future of Mississinewa soccer.”