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Soccer: A season filled with uncertainty
Despite several coaching changes, Hillsborough makes it to districts.
By JOE SMITH
Published January 15, 2008
TAMPA - For Hillsborough senior midfielder Sara Ramon, there were times she considered this season "hopeless."
The two-time defending district champion Terriers consistently dealt with turmoil; they are on their third coach, filling the gaps of uncertainty by running drills themselves.
Some Terriers were kicked off the team, then reinstated. Practices were unorganized. A district three-peat was considered kaput when, at one point, their season was in jeopardy if they didn't find a certified coach.
"I thought about throwing my hands up and saying, 'I'm through,'" Ramon said.
But Terriers assistant principal Dwight Wood came through in early December, serving his second stint this season as coach. Wood, 59, who has several state soccer titles at the youth level, was granted emergency certification from the county in order to carry the Terriers through the postseason.
They begin Class 5A, District 10 tournament play tonight at Middleton as the No. 2 seed, and Ramon said the Terriers 7-6-1, 6-1 are peaking at the right time.
"Coach Wood definitely saved us," Ramon said. "If it wasn't for him, we may have never made it to districts."
Wood taking over capped off an ironic contrast. The same administration parents felt let their daughters down during the coaching search stepped in to save them.
It began when John Matin, a former coach at Lake Gibson, took over for longtime coach Ronald Fedeles before the season started. Matin lasted a month before being replaced for what both parties labeled a mutual split over "philosophical differences" in coaching style.
Wood stepped in as a stopgap, as parents helped to find a full-time replacement. They brought Daniel Garcia, a former Terriers and Sickles coach, to athletic director Bertha Baker in late November. Garcia was put through the district approval process and helped assist Wood during practices.
Parents said Garcia became frustrated when parts of his application were lost by the Terriers administration; players medical cards also were lost and had to be replaced. Baker denied the lost paperwork, saying Garcia, who could not be reached for comment, didn't stay because "he let his certification expire."
Ramon and fellow captain Cristina Zulaica said the team has rallied around Wood, who said, "The girls have had a tough year."
"I have another daughter who will be coming to Hillsborough in a few years," said parent Gus Espinosa, father of senior outside defender Adriana. "And I don't want her to have to go through what these girls did."