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Girls soccer pioneer Wilcox steps down

For the first time in 23 seasons at Bayonet Point Middle, Jim Wilcox was nowhere to be found at that school's soccer games.

A longtime champion for middle school girls soccer in Pasco County, Wilcox coached Bayonet Point boys teams that occasionally included girls from 1979-80 through 1996-97.

The next season, his dream came to fruition with the advent of the county's first middle school girls soccer teams. Wilcox coached the Patriots in girls soccer until being replaced by former Seven Springs Middle girls soccer coach Lori Jorgensen in the fall.

"In a way, it's the passing of an era," Wilcox said.

Wilcox stepped down from coaching with a 126-55-14 record, including an 18-18-4 mark in five seasons coaching girls soccer.

He coached back-to-back unbeaten teams in 1988-89 and 1989-90, and Bayonet Point boys teams won six Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference titles.

Before the season, Wilcox, a health science teacher at Bayonet Point for 25 years, felt awkward telling players he would no longer coach.

"It was definitely strange," he said. "I would explain to them that I did it for a long time and it's time for me to do other things."

Those include two recent duties. In the past year Wilcox has been a booking agent for Bourbon Street Nightclub in New Port Richey and became president of the Concourse Council, which schedules events on land north of State Road 52.

One thing Wilcox does not plan to give up is working with the Pasco Special Olympics, something he has done for 25 years.

In 1984, Wilcox circulated a petition for middle school girls soccer in the county. The Pasco School Board approved girls soccer at the high school level for the 1987-88 season. In 1997, the county added middle school girls soccer.

"I was happy because it if wasn't for (the petition) we wouldn't have girls soccer," Wilcox said.

Still, Wilcox was disappointed middle school girls soccer did not get approved until 1997.

"I know a lot of girls who didn't play soccer because of that," he said.

Skip Riley, now the county's longest-tenured middle school soccer coach with 21 seasons coaching boys teams at Stewart in Zephyrhills, lauded Wilcox for his efforts.

"That was a good idea," Riley said of middle school girls soccer. "I think girls always felt like they were secluded or they didn't get a chance. I think that brought more girls out."

Vicky King, who earlier this month coached the Land O'Lakes High girls team to the county's first state championship, is considered a pioneer in her own right. King, who with 17 seasons has coached high school soccer longer than any other coach in the county, labeled Wilcox's persistence to adopt the sport "remarkable."

Having coached at the high school and club levels, King considers middle school soccer "a great feeder program. It helps build (high school) programs."

Wilcox, 49, admittedly missed coaching this season and being involved in practices as well as games.

"I miss the happiness on the kids' faces when they score a goal; when they make a good pass or learn a new skill," he said.

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