By Ruben Lowman
Arriving as head coach of the Loris Lions boys soccer team when the program was going through a rebuild, Andre White knew he had to get to work quickly.
“When I came to coach soccer at Loris, the program was in rebuild. Our first step was to change the culture to prepare student-athletes for the world,” White explained. “The next step was to build the program to compete with the best. We are not there yet, but we have started in the right direction with how the boys have done over the years and their success as a family.”
White, also a Loris Middle School teacher and assistant football coach for the high school, said he has learned so much from his players during his time as head coach over the past couple seasons.
“I have learned so much from the boys and as my time as a coach from other coaches, and will continue to hone my craft to help the program be successful.”
The hard work he has seen his players put in over the years has led to them pulling off impressive victories over Conway and Aynor already this season. Last Monday, April 4, they continued their winning ways, defeating Marion 3-0. With that win, Loris moves to 3-4 (1-4 Region VII-3A) with their last region game coming up after spring break against Georgetown.
Loris Athletic Director Barry Brooks said White has done a really good job with the Lions, and they have made impressive strides this season, with big victories over rivals so far and a key rematch against the Bulldogs to close out the season. Then the 3A state playoffs are set to begin shortly after. He noted it is an incredibly tough region, given the Waccamaw Warriors are a part of it.
Another hurdle for White and the Lions players has been the fact that they have had to play all of their games on the road, as the high school’s football field is getting its new synthetic turf field installed in order to be ready for next season. He took the opportunity to highlight several of his players who have led the team this season.
“Our boys have battled on the road all season and will continue to do so because we have no home games,” White said. “Jaleel Chestnut, Deeon Bellamy, Daniel Osment, Deshawn Hunter, Gael Gonzalez, and Edward Garcia have played well despite any adversity faced. Deeon, Daniel, Jaleel, and Edward have done well, keeping the energy going and leading the team.”
All of the players White highlighted are seniors, except for Garcia who is a junior. He said that all of them have embraced the change that was made when he took over the team four years ago, and they have all worked incredibly hard to make the program better each year.
“They are a special group,” White said.
Hunter and Garcia have been particularly impressive throughout the season, as they are players the team looks to to try things on the ball and create goals. Along with the rest of the Lions, they have both shown heart, fight and dedication throughout the season, whether in defeat or victory.
White said he was looking forward to the difficult challenge of facing a quality Georgetown team to close out region play, as well as a rematch with the 5A Conway Tigers right before the state playoffs start. As they have all season, he said that wouldn’t stop his players from showing up, ready for a fight, fitting for a pride of Lions.
“Both teams are very competitive and will be tough outs. They are coached well and play hard,” White said. “We know each game will be a battle and the plan will still be to rise to the challenge and come out on top.”