BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Ian Headley, the girls soccer coach at Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona, is trying to build the program from the ground up. The school just brought back the sport after a seven-year absence.
In addition, Headley is trying to spark interest in the sport in the Daytona Beach area among African-American kids.
“I don’t see a lot of interest in the Black community in Daytona. I don’t see a lot of the sport in Daytona as a whole. Soccer is more popular in DeLand and Orlando. I’m not sure that the kids, especially the Black kids in Daytona are getting introduced to it. Once you learn how to play this game, color doesn’t matter,” Headley told the Times.
Eyes on state title
The Warner Eagles are composed mostly of middle school students that compete against high school varsity teams. They are 2-4 so far this season.
“We are outmatched in just about every game. It’s a learning experience. We are moving towards what it takes to be a successful program. The plan is to build a team that can win a state title in a few years,” Headley told the Daytona Times.
Warner currently doesn’t have any more games scheduled but hopes to find more opponents to play. The soccer season runs through January, Headley said.
No major soccer background
The 24-year old Headley hails form Delray Beach, where he attended Olympic Heights High School. He is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University, where he received a degree in sociology back in May.
Headley isn’t in the ideal situation nor is he an ideal coach. He didn’t play the sport in high school nor college.
“I played soccer when I was young and up through middle school, but I mostly played football and ran track. I played a year of football as a wide receiver in college at Jacksonville University – then transferred to Cookman,” Headley noted.
Headley says he has faced challenges as a local Black coach.
“Sometimes people look at me and question my position. They wonder what do I know about the sport and why am I coaching it? I can say at a private school like Warner, we have a lot of diversity with a small student population. So, being Black often helps me get others interested who wouldn’t be into the sport,’’ commented Headley.
Headley is one of two Black soccer coaches in Volusia County. He is building a program while Antuarn Williams at Pierson Taylor is in a program that has had success in recent years. Williams also is head football coach at Taylor.
Coach, science teacher
There have been other challenges for Headley coaching the team.
“Of, course being a startup program is very difficult and the hardest thing of all.
There is a lot going on, but you’re trying to get everything to go and run. It is also challenging because we didn’t have a lot of success,” Headley explained.
“We often practice well but didn’t play like expected. It’s not that the girls weren’t good enough, but it is more of it will take time for us to develop and become good at what it takes to be successful.’’
Soccer isn’t the only sport that Headley is involved in. He also is an assistant football coach and will be an assistant track and field coach at the school. He also was recently hired as a full-time science teacher at Warner.
When he isn’t teaching, he runs his company, Epic Speed and Agility. As a speed coach, he helps athletes by using drills, techniques, and exercises to help them get faster. He started the business in November 2011.
Headley decided to stay in Daytona after graduating from B-CU because he figured it a good place to start his business of training athletes.