Jessi Young is no stranger to slow starts as a member of the McMinn Central soccer team. The only difference is that now a lot more eyes are looking up to her.
The junior forward has seen the last two Chargerette teams start 1-3 and 1-2, respectively, as head coach Bill McConkey does his best to schedule top-level competition to prepare his team for the district slate, as well as the postseason. It's worked, too -- McMinn Central's last two seasons have ended in the Class A/AA state sectional round.
Young has 48 goals and 15 assists in her high school career. She was a first-team Best of Preps member after a sophomore season where she finished with 37 goals and 10 assists. So far this season, she has a pair of goals and an assist, but the team is off to an 0-3 start heading into the Chattanooga Christian Tournament this weekend.
McMinn Central is one of five area teams participating, along with the host Lady Chargers, Boyd-Buchanan, Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy. There will be three separate sessions of the classic-style tournament that starts Friday afternoon.
"We have a bunch of freshmen on our team, but we're getting better knowing if we play hard competition first, we'll know what to expect later in the season," Young said Tuesday.
McConkey said Tuesday that a whole lot more is expected of Young this season. The early roster has seven freshmen and eight sophomores, pared with only four seniors. The injury bug has hit the team as well, but McConkey hopes to get some pieces back soon.
"We're asking her to operate a lot by herself," McConkey said. "I like that she hasn't got frustrated; she's actually teaching the younger players a lot."
Trying to remain poised has been one of the toughest parts of Young's transformation from team member to team leader.
"Other players on the team look up to me now, so if I'm upset, they're going to get upset, too," Young said. "I think we'll be OK, though; the more games we get together, the more used to each other we'll be at the end of the year."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.