McCallie Jones plays forward. She did in high school for the Charlotte Latin girls’ soccer team. She does at College of Charleston.So she was a little surprised when Charlotte Lady Eagles coach Lee Horton called her in February and asked her to play defense for the team this summer. She did it because she trusts Horton. He was one of her first club coaches when she was 12 years old and coached her in high school at Latin. “I would do anything for coach. If he needed me as a goalie, I would attempt that,” Jones said. “I was nervous. I still am nervous because I don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to disappoint anyone but I will still do it no matter what because I respect him and he asked me and he knows I can do it.”Jones, 21, starts at outside back for the Lady Eagles, an amateur women’s team made up of mostly current and former college players and competes in the United Soccer Leagues W-League. She has thrived in her new role, even scoring a goal this season from the defensive position.“She’s one of the most powerful, explosive players that I’ve ever coached with her athletics,” Horton said. “She’s like dynamite in a bottle.” Jones played for Charlotte Latin and graduated in 2010, helping the Hawks to three-straight state championships. She was named all-state each of those years.She’s a rising senior forward at College of Charleston and started nine games and scored four goals with two assists last year.Jones started training with the Lady Eagles after high school and made the roster in 2010, but could only play for a short time before going back to college. Other summers, she played on the practice team. Horton could only think of three other former Latin players who have played for him with the Lady Eagles. One is his daughter, Kristin, the fourth goalie on this year’s team after injuries have kept her from playing for three years. She’s also good friends with Jones.“It’s exciting for me as her high school coach to see the growth in all areas of her life,” Horton said about Jones. “When I have somebody that comes through the whole gamut of what I do ... it’s just a blessing.”Horton has also coached Charlotte Latin’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams for 28 years, winning 15 state championships. He won his 900th game in March.Horton joined the Eagles organization as an assistant coach when the men’s team started play in 1993 and started coaching the women’s team when it formed in 2000. He’s been the team’s only head coach. The Eagles are a Christian organization and owned by Missionary Athletes International. “In my life, the three most important things to me, in order, are my relationship to Jesus, my faith, my family and then my work, and the Eagles are a part of that, just like (Charlotte) Latin is,” Horton said. “With the Lady Eagles I’m able to totally express myself to my players and use faith as part of my coaching styles.” He’s had plenty of success, leading the team to the playoffs all but one year as coach. He’s been to the league championship game three times and won a title in 2001. He was inducted to the USL Hall of Fame in 2011 and the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame in 2007.Jones has enjoyed getting to play and interact more with Horton. “He’s passionate about everything and he’s the most knowledgeable coach I’ve ever played for,” she said. “I feel like I’m learning a lot, too, even though I’ve played for him forever.”The Lady Eagles are 3-3 (through June 21) this year. Horton said this is one of the youngest teams he’s ever coached with just four players older than 23. Last year the team only have a handful of players younger than 23. “With how new this team is, I am pleasantly surprised,” Jones said. “I knew we were a good team but I wasn’t sure how we were going to match up to the veteran competition but we have done great.”Jones is settling into the defensive position. She also sees how it can help her play forward when she goes back to College of Charleston in the fall. “I’m glad I’m playing one of the toughest competitions in the country,” she said. “If I can do it against them I can do it against anybody. ... “Now I know how to get around defenders because I know what they’re learning and I know about their shapes.”Jones plans on coming back to the club after she graduates. She’s been around it for years, working as a ball girl or in concessions when she was too young to play. “It’s just my favorite team,” she said. “I will probably do this for many seasons to come without having a college season to go back to. “I can’t get away from it no matter what I do.”
Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013
Player, coach reunite with Charlotte Eagles
Want to go? The Charlotte Lady Eagles play home matches at the Queens University of Charlotte Sports Complex. For a schedule and information, visit www.charlotteeagles.com.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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