Wright City soccer coach Kurt Laughman (pointing) delivers instructions to players during last week's camp at the high school. 

 WRIGHT CITY - There’s a couple new options on the sporting menu for athletes at Wright City High School this fall.

The Wildcats are now serving girls golf and boys soccer, which were approved at a school board meeting in November and accompany returning sports: football, softball, volleyball and cross country.

Kurt Laughton will handle head coaching duties for the soccer squad. And while tryouts and the first official practice don’t begin until Aug. 12, Laughton already had a glimpse of what might be in store this autumn during last week’s camp, which was attended by nearly 20 hopeful players.

“The enthusiasm has been off the charts at this camp alone,” Laughman said. “These kids have been aching for soccer and were pretty vocal about it. Now we have it for them so it’s pretty exciting.”

This is Laughman’s first time in charge of a varsity program, but he guided the Wright City boys JV basketball team to a winning campaign last winter. 

“I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity,” he said. “I played soccer (at Winfield High School) and indoor as an adult. I love this game and it’s great to lead a new program. Hopefully we’re going to make something special here.”

In building a new program, Laughman said it might take a while before the Wildcats really get rolling. They’re inexperienced, but possess potential to grow with a low floor and high ceiling.  

“More than half of these guys are learning from the ground up, so we’re very raw,” he said. “The youth leagues haven’t been developed as much in the Wright City area, but that’s something that’s changing. The parks department has a program going and some local clubs are starting to grow as well. So I think our future looks bright bur right now our level of experience is pretty low.”

And while the experience may not be there yet, the numbers seem to be solid.

“Before this was launched, there were questions if we’d have enough guys to field a team, but I expect to have at least 20 and possibly 30 or more come out for this,” Laughman said. “And for a lot of them it’s their only sport. So we’re getting more kids involved with athletics who weren’t before, and that’s good for the school and the community, no matter what the results are on the field.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to have a varsity and junior varsity team, but we’ll just have to see.”

Like the Wildcats girls soccer team, which won seven games and reached the Class 2 District 8 championship in its inaugural season last spring, the boys squad will play their home games on the football field.

Aside from Elsberry, Wright City is the team in the Eastern Missouri Conference to carry a boys soccer team, so “we’ll play as many schools as we can that are close to us geographically regardless of size,” Laughman said.

The Wildcats have 15 varsity games scheduled for their 2019 slate, which opens on Friday, Aug. 30 when they host Tower Grove Academy at 4 p.m. Another big date is Sept. 9 when county rival Warrenton visits for a 4:30 p.m. contest. 

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