Coach’s Corner: Getting to know Coach Julie Sweat
Julie Sweat, founder of McNairy Central High soccer, grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin right outside of Green Bay with an awesome opportunity to see Packers’ and Brewers’ games.
Sweat graduated from Menasha High School, which had an open-ended variety of sports such as figure skating, hockey, gymnastics, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, bowling, track, cross-country, and swimming.
Although Sweat played several different sports her earliest memory was in tee-ball.
“I had a really cute outfit, of all things to remember,” said Sweat. “I had redesigned my t-ball t-shirt. I put little sparkly applique and some rose stuff on it, and I was really cool because my shirt was not like the rest of my team.”
In 1989, Sweat attended Harding University and transferred to Freed Hardeman where she played softball and met and later married her husband, Jeremy Sweat, in 1993. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Later, she earned a Master’s in Education.
Married for over 17 years and with three children, daughter Mallorie and twin boys Dillon and Blake, Sweat had her hands full going into coaching.
While on a road trip with her husband to Memphis, Julie saw some kids at the park and suggested, “One day our kids are going to play soccer.”
Memphis at the time was the only area with a soccer program. Sweat was a stay-at-home mom until MCHS soccer launched.
Julie coached and helped aid Nick Cook in implementing a soccer program for the boys in the beginning.
Jerry Lott and Sweat pulled together to later create and learn a new girls program that is now a state-bound soccer team.
“Our first year, we didn’t have a soccer field,” said Sweat. “We practiced on the back of the baseball field. All our games were on the road. We shared a few home games with Adamsville High School. Now we have a field with lights, sod, and a sprinkler system. We have really been blessed.”
In the first year Julie formed her best memory. Adamsville and McNairy were playing against each other in the first round of the district. McNairy held the fourth position, while Adamsville held the first.
“We wanted to end on a positive note,” said Sweat. With the help of Coach Lott, the two decided to try something new since they were going into the game as an underdog.
“We won that game after Adamsville was predicted to go to state. We beat them by one goal. I remember the girls lifting up the water buckets, cheering, and crying. I believe whole-heartedly that that game set the precedence of the whole following year.”
Soccer was a good way for the girls to train in the offseason of basketball. Coach Lott benefited in the sport supplementing basketball.
“It’s hard to learn something new and to change. I wanted to use my skills to promote soccer in a positive way and we have always tried to have a lot of fun,” said Sweat.
Parents, players, and attendees have helped Sweat along the way, especially with her children as they attended games with her while she coached.
“There are many unsung heroes who have helped along the way.”
Julie listed several in particular including Delise Teague, Melody Price, Stacy Montgomery, Danny Hendrix, Sybil Dancer, Angie Robinson, Julie Hamm, and all the parents and mentors that have been there.
Mallorie took stats for the team at an early age and went to state with them about six years ago. “They grew up as the players grew up.
“Last year was really exciting because Mallorie was a freshmen and I got to take her as a player,” said Sweat.
The team’s second trip to state was cherished by Sweat because she was not only a proud coach, but a proud parent.
This year, because of the junior high soccer program, the freshmen girls have more experience than what they have been used to in the past.
“Most of our girls stay all four years. Many have had offers. This year Ashley Butler signed and the first year Laura Norrowitts signed.”
For most girls, the sport is still new and a learning experience. Not only are the girls learning, but so are their parents.
“It’s hard to be a female and coach with a family,” said Sweat. “I definitely could not have done it without the awesome parents that we have had over the years. There is so much pride in this sport and it’s a surprise to see how far it has come in McNairy County.”