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PRCC soccer athlete outworked his competition

Tres Ray was introduced to the sport of soccer by his mom at the age of 5 and has since become a talented winger for the Pearl River College Community Wildcats.

As a child Ray wanted to play a sport, but his mom wanted him to stay away from football, which led to Ray picking up soccer instead.

“My mom thought football was for meatheads and she didn’t want me to get hurt, so she put me in soccer,” Ray said.

The decision paid off with Ray coming off his first season with the Wildcats in which he played in nine games, started six of them and knocked in four goals.

Soccer as a sport has a number of intricacies top players are aware of, and so the developmental phase of an athlete’s game is very important during their early years. In an effort to find an avenue of competition that was difficult, Ray found his place on a club team and used that to hone his skills in competitive environments.

That time spent playing against talented opponents led to Ray seeing some varsity time freshman year at Poplarville High School before cementing his place in the starting lineup the following season.

Ray said his inspiration to reach the top levels of competitive soccer came from an interaction he had with a club coach years prior.

“We had a coach from England that just got us into a group and said, ‘Who wants to go farther than the rest?’ and I said, ‘Well I guess I do.’ He kind of put that seed in my head,” Ray said.

Ray had a decent amount of knowledge when it came to the finer details of soccer going into varsity play, having played soccer at a high level for years prior to high school with coaches who had previous professional experience.

The current head coach of the Poplarville soccer program is Luke Gipson and Ray said Gipson did a good job of understanding his players’ potential while allowing an open dialogue between players and coach.

“He let us have some input, but he took a lot upon himself to learn about the game. He was also a really good motivator,” Ray said.

Ray is part of the group of athletes whose competitive season wasn’t affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since soccer season had ended by the time spring competitions were cancelled, so all Ray is missing out on is training sessions and some spring games.

The emphasis for Ray during the cancellation has been staying in shape so he can continue to pursue opportunities in the upper levels of competition.

“I just want to keep playing as long as I can. Hopefully I can move to Division II or Division I, and then go play any kind of semi pro (soccer), or in any league,” Ray said.