Success has been a staple for the Warren County Middle School soccer programs. Two new faces are hopeful they can continue to win championships.
Ario Zadeh and Lyndi Dodd have been named the new head coaches at WCMS, replacing Matt Jackson and Matt Walker after both departed as Central Tennessee Conference champions. Zadeh is taking over the boys program, which has won the last five CTC championships, while Dodd will lead the Lady Pioneers, who Walker led to multiple championships during his tenure.
“Our soccer teams have been very successful in the past,” said WCMS athletic director Betsy McBride, who presided over the coaching searches. “I feel confident our new coaches, Ario and Lyndi, will continue to teach the fundamentals of soccer. They have a desire for success.”
Zadeh’s passion was evident from the moment he was told he had the job.
“I had a moment of crazy excitement. I didn’t want to show it at the moment because I felt I needed to be professional, but the excitement got the best of me,” Zadeh recalled after receiving the promotion. “I stuttered out a ‘Thank you’ and jumped up to shake hands and hug people.”
Zadeh, a fifth-grade teacher at Bobby Ray, has been an assistant for the Pioneers the last two seasons, but his soccer roots go deep. Zadeh, who graduated from Warren County High School in 1995, grew up playing soccer in the area. His father was a big part of helping establish Pistole Park, where Zadeh has served as a coach, referee and commissioner of youth soccer leagues. Zadeh also has coached recreation leagues in Chattanooga and Murfreesboro.
Dodd also has a long history with local soccer. From an early age, Dodd became a force in the net. The newest teacher at West Elementary helped win championships at WCMS, then became a stalwart at keeper for coach Todd Willmore’s best teams at WCHS. Dodd was a three-time, all-district honoree and member of three runs to region in her high school career.
As a senior, Dodd had three shutouts in district play and allowed only eight goals in eight district games. Upon graduating, Dodd signed a scholarship to play at Tennessee Temple. Dodd would later transfer to play at Bryan College, where she received a degree in elementary education.
Dodd now is looking to shut down opposing opponents from the sideline, a job she’s thrilled to have.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to coach. I have always wanted to coach and now I get that chance. I am excited to be able to spread my love for soccer with other girls. I’m looking forward to the season,” said Dodd.
Dodd knows there’s a big expectation for winning, especially taking over the defending CTC champions. She relishes the chance to continue pointing the program in the right direction.
“I hope to continue the winning tradition. My job is to build on what coach Walker has accomplished,” said Dodd. “My goal as a coach is to grow players’ knowledge of the game. I want them to enjoy playing soccer.”
Integrity and hard work are Zadeh’s top priorities.
“These young men will be expected to represent the school and county in a positive manner. We will be a team of respect and focus,” said Zadeh. “I want my players to learn what hard work means and see what it can lead to. I’m trying to show them how hard work is done properly.”
The new Pioneer leader isn’t shying away from the expectations of the program either.
“They are big shoes to fill, having won five straight championships. I’ve also set the high expectations of winning a championship again,” said Zadeh. “I was told it may be hard winning as a first-year coach, but that would be an excuse. I believe in these boys and what they will do on the field.
“The expectation is winning with sportsmanship and hard work.”
Dodd and Zadeh know the expectations. They’re both ready to roll the ball out and get to work. Zadeh’s team will be first up, with the Pioneer season set to begin this spring. Dodd’s team will take the field this fall, part of the 2018-19 school year.