Hawks soccer poised to take flight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MURFREESBORO – As Ken Miller embarks on his first collegiate head coaching job, senior Eddie Harris is preparing to study under his third mentor in four years.

Such is the life of the Chowan University men’s soccer program.

But while past history is etched under the Braves banner, it’s the hope of both Miller and Harris that the Hawks will begin a new chapter.

Both coach and player are upbeat as the 2006 soccer season begins. The first playing date is tomorrow (Wednesday) with a 3 p.m. home match against St. Andrews.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m eager to tackle,” Miller said. “Even though the majority of our players are fresh out of high school, there’s a lot of talent on this team.”

With a roster of 19, Miller is looking at 12 freshmen. Only Harris, a senior defender from Greensboro, Joe Rampersad, a senior forward from Winton who played at Hertford County High School, and juniors Leon Waddell (midfielder from Portsmouth, Va.) and Josh Whitehurst (defender from Chesapeake, Va.) lend experience to the 2006 Chowan Hawks. The remainder of the squad consists of two, first-year sophomores and a junior transfer.

“It should go without saying that we’re looking at Eddie and Joe to provide leadership this season,” Miller noted. “They will want to leave a legacy here at Chowan, one where they helped to build a foundation on which this program can grow.”

The schedule is mixed with NCAA Division II foes (Coker, Mt. Olive, Barton) along with some familiar names from the D-III ranks n Methodist, NC Wesleyan, Guilford, Greensboro, Ferrum, Shenandoah and Averett. However, the 15-game regular season schedule is not kind to Chowan as far as home matches are concerned. The Hawks will enjoy the comforts of home only five times this season.

“That’s something we can’t worry about because it’s out of our control,” Miller said concerning the top-heavy travel schedule. “We’re concentrating on building a program and the future for that looks promising.’

Another “promise” from Miller is for Chowan soccer to do a better job in reaching out to the community.

“We’re trying to build a better relationship between our program and the community,” Miller stressed. “Our players will go out and become involved in the local schools, reading to the students. In turn, we hope those students and their parents will come out and watch us compete.”

Harris said promoting Chowan, as well as soccer in general, was at the top of his list.

“Soccer was real slow to catch on as a major sport here in America,” Harris said. “It’s been even slower to catch on in North Carolina. The more we can go out and represent Chowan University and our soccer program, the better our school and our program will become.”

With the season opener looming less than 24 hours away, Miller said he had two goals n to develop professionalism on and off the field and to reach out into the community and promote his program.

Neither goal mentioned wins or losses.

“The wins will come,” he said. “Realistically, we can win three of our five home matches. If we can win four on the road, then we’re looking at a 7-9 season. We can deal with that.”

For Harris, seven wins would be great. Chowan’s best season during his stay in Murfreesboro has been five wins.

“With three coaches in my four years here, it’s been hard to stay on top of your game; hard to stay competitive,” said Harris. “I’m really excited about this year. We have the best freshman class coming in since I’ve been here and a coach that wants to build a program.”

Miller comes to Chowan by way of Tennessee where he served for five seasons as the assistant men’s soccer coach at Carson-Newman College, also an NCAA DII institution. There, Miller was an integral part in the rebuilding of the program into a national powerhouse on the DII level.

Also a graduate of Carson-Newman, Miller was a three-year starter and captain for the men’s soccer program.

Miller also has coaching experience at both the club and high school levels. Along with his coaching position at Carson-Newman, he served as the head men’s soccer coach at Morristown West High School (TN) where in two seasons he led the team to a 20-16-1 overall record, one district championship and a state tournament regional runner-up spot in 2005.

A native of Lakeland, Florida, Miller graduated from Carson-Newman in 1999 with a BA in History and Political Science. He also earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from his alma mater in 2004.

He is married to Amy McLead Miller and together they have one son, Nathan Matthew. They are also expecting their second child in December.