Stock set to put his stamp on Mills girls soccer program. By John Nestor
BURLINGTON - It appears that Jason Stock could not have asked for a better fit for his high school soccer coaching debut.
Armed with a load of experience and a roster stocked with veteran players, Stock takes over this fall as the head girls soccer coach at Lewis Mills High School.
Stock replaces Dennis Fowler, who resigned in December. Fowler coached the Spartans for nine successful seasons, winning six Berkshire League titles and making three semifinals in the state tournament. Lewis Mills was the Class M runner-up in 2010.
A Southampton, England native, Stock's playing experience includes stints in South Africa and the United Kingdom, where he also coached the game. He is familiar with Burlington and the soccer community as he serves as the Director of Coaching for the Burlington Junior Soccer Association.
"I am excited about the opportunity," Stock said. "It is a good opportunity to work with high-level, quality players."
Upon taking over, Stock held a player-parent meeting to introduce himself and lay out some of his goals for the programs. He then held individual meetings with all of the players in his program, which helped lay the groundwork for a productive preseason.
"It was a good opportunity to meet the girls, talk about the program and our goals and get their input," Stock said. "We went over expectations and where we want to go with the program."
Based on recent results, there are only a few places the Spartans can go where they haven't been before. Lewis Mills' first goal will be to reclaim the Berkshire League title from Nonnewaug. After that, an elusive state title would be nice.
"The expectations are high, but I would prefer them to be high," Stock said. "The players will be challenged and when I spoke to them they all said their goal was to win the Berkshire League and to challenge for a state title. Their desire to reach those goals will help us a lot."
With just over 40 players in the program, Stock will have the ability to mix and match his lineup combinations throughout the season. That will be a nice luxury, but in the preseason, getting acquainted with that many players was one of his tougher tasks.
"The biggest challenge was getting to know all of the girls and their playing ability," Stock said. "We have a lot of depth and I pretty much have the varsity squad decided but we have about five girls that are right there for three spots. From my side, it's a great problem to have, that much depth."
While Stock did not want much if any outside information about the players so he could make his own determinations, he has touched base with Fowler on other things and found the former coach helpful.
"We didn't talk about the players and their ability, but we did talk about the group as a whole and the dynamics of the group," Stock said. "He's been helpful in regards to the league and the competition too, especially since this is my first time through."
Stock said his goal is to have his team start organized on defense and have speed in transition. From there he hopes the positive results will follow as the Spartans look to maintain their standing as one of the area's best as they begin a new era.
"On the field, I want to win the Berkshire League and make a strong run at the state title," Stock said. "I can't wait to start the season. We had a good preseason and we have a talented group, so I am excited to get things going."