Battle High School junior Kaden Fugate jumps to block

Battle junior Kaden Fugate, right, jumps to block a punt by Hickman junior Kymani Scott last season at Hickman High School. Battle takes on Capital City on Thursday at home.

Tracy Grant, who is entering his third season as the coach for the Battle boys soccer program, said the focus of his program this season is building a culture based on strong character and unity.

“The culture we want is to develop leaders,” he said. “We want to focus on responsibility, accountability and leadership. On the field, No. 1, we want to focus on being a team by working together and not getting down on each other.”

After Battle’s 4-3 loss against Fulton in double overtime Saturday, Grant hopes his seniors will help build chemistry moving forward.

“We’re getting them used to each other, to trust each other,” Grant said. “We have 10 seniors on varsity, with most of them being with the program for three to four years. I see them as mini coaches in a way, have them help expand their knowledge to the newer players.”

Grant also emphasized his program’s supportive attitude toward inexperienced athletes.

“We want to be open to new players,” he said. “Soccer is an expensive sport. Some of these guys who come out have no opportunity to pay for club sports, so this is their chance to play the game. In the history of our program, we’ve never cut anybody.

“We have a wide range of coaching staff for varying levels of players, so everyone gets an opportunity.”

The seniors and other players with large amounts of experience shared their support of Grant’s philosophy and culture. Kaden Fugate, who has been with the varsity program for four years, said being a leader is crucial for helping new and inexperienced players and achieving team success.

“I always want to talk to them and help them play to their expectations,” Fugate said. “My freshman year, I didn’t hold myself up to what I wanted to accomplish, so I want to push these guys to where I know they can be. Overall, I’m trying to be a better leader and get them to help each other.”

While positives can be hard to find in a loss, Fugate was impressed with how the team performed against Fulton.

“It was great to see everyone in a real game situation. A lot of the team got the experience I think we need to get closer as a team.”

Senior Aiden Lockett has placed high value on positive communication.

“I struggled with confidence as a freshman,” he said. “I was afraid to push myself and see what my limit was. We have some talented freshmen this year. They’re pretty shy. I try to praise them when they do something right and make them feel confident in what they’re capable of.”

Lockett has high expectations for the program this season. He said they were capable of winning more games than any team in Spartans history, the current season-best number standing at eight.

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