August 8, 2014 12:13:08 PM
Reagan Hern is back in a familiar position in more ways than one.
Two years ago, Hern was the mother hen, or most experienced player on a New Hope High School girls soccer team stocked with underclassmen. After years of playing in the back, Hern moved to forward her senior year and was a driving force behind another playoff run for the Lady Trojans.
Hern's play up top attracted the attention of Mike Sullivan and Cody Carson at Itawamba Community College in Fulton. Both coaches liked Hern's combination of size and speed and envisioned her fitting in well with the ICC women's soccer team's attack.
Things changed when Hern arrived at ICC.
Not only wasn't Hern starting when the 2013 season opened, she also was adjusting to a move back to defense. It didn't take long, though, for Hern "to show out" when she received a chance to play. From there, she solidified her position as a valuable part of ICC's defense.
This season, Hern feels like that mother hen again, albeit things there isn't such an age difference between her and some of her teammates at ICC.
"I kind of have my seniority back," Hern said Wednesday after ICC's first full practice of the season. "I am extremely comfortable with being in the back and telling people what they need to be doing. I feel extremely confident in what I am doing on the field. I am comfortable that I can tell people and also confident I can tell people in the right way."
Sullivan and Carson hope Hern can be a stabilizing force at center back as well as a vocal leader this season to help ICC improve from a 3-8-2 season. Injuries played a role in ICC's finish. Reagan's sister, Sarah, another former standout at New Hope High, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury was played in only seven games. Reagan Hern started 12 matches and also suffered a concussion, so she is looking forward to an injury-free season for a team that also includes local players like Maris Moorhead (Starkville High), Rachel Stukenborg (Heritage Academy), and Taylor Kidder (Columbus Christian School).
Hern hopes to have a solid sophomore season that can help her move on to play soccer at a four-year school. She feels her versatility will improve her chances of continuing her career, especially after she moved into a defensive role a few games into the 2013 season. She feels she played well and showed she could be a vocal leader and a player her teammates could trust.
This season, she hopes to build on what she accomplished in 2013. She said she will draw from her time at New Hope High, when the younger players looked to her for leadership and she provided counsel and encouragement to help build team chemistry.
"For me, with this possibly being my last year playing soccer, I want to give it everything I have got," Hern said. "My senior year at New Hope I got a lot of recognition and people said it was going to be hard to replace me. I want to be remembered for stepping up and being vocal. That is how people say they remember me at New Hope. I want (the players that follow her at ICC) to know they have shoes to fill and I was the vocal leader in the back. I want to help the freshmen work harder and see that they can do the same thing as me."
Carson doesn't see Hern having any problem being a vocal leader. In fact, he was pleased with how she emerged last season and helped keep ICC competitive despite five divisional losses by one goal. He feels the team has better chemistry this season and that Hern will be able to keep the bonds strong.
"She has a very strong defensive presence," Carson said. "She is a big body who is physically strong and vocally strong. I expect her to lead our back line and to be the voice of the team out of the back."
Carson also hopes Hern can avoid injuries. A year ago, he said Hern suffered her concussion after she blocked a goal and then smacked her head off the goal post. While he applauded Hern's effort, he said she will have to try to do a better job staying healthy because she is such a valuable piece to the team's defense.
That's a familiar situation for Hern, and one she is looking forward to shining in.
"Last year, I did try to go ahead and make it known it was my spot and I was a vocal leader," Hern said. "This year, I am ready to do it because I know I can."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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