The Union Recorder

August 21, 2013

Trojan soccer under new leadership

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — A young head coach wants to make an immediate GISA soccer impact.

John Milledge Academy hired 23-year-old Cody Mahler in June. Mahler replaces the retired Hal Haynes as the head middle school and varsity Trojan boys coach.

Despite his youth, Mahler has played and coached in multiple high school level sports. He said work ethic would translate to the varsity squad next spring.

“You want to play harder for a coach that’s working hard for you. I’m going to work my butt off,” Mahler said.

Mahler is teaching Algebra II and coaching JMA football’s offensive line this fall as well. The head soccer coach said working in two sports builds student-athlete relationships and breaks down soccer stereotypes.

“It helps outreach to the kids that are iffy. I think it’s huge to have coaches that are in multiple sports, especially diverse sports like football and soccer,” he said.

Mahler was born in California and grew up in Perry, Ga. He played football, soccer and ran track in high school.

After graduation, Mahler attended Macon State College for two years and helped coach soccer at Stratford Academy during that span.

The JMA coach transferred to Georgia Southern University, where he walked onto the soccer team. A switch from competing to coaching happened quickly.

“I decided playing wasn’t fun anymore. That’s when I got into coaching heavily,” Mahler said.

For the last two years, the 23-year-old coached at Bulloch Academy.

Mahler’s main goal with young adults has nothing to do with wins or losses. High school coaches got the new JMA addition through hardships.

“I had a really rough time growing up. My coaches were my parents,” Mahler said. “If I can help one kid out the way my coaches helped me, I consider my career a success.”

JMA soccer will look completely different under Mahler’s strategy.

Fast-paced tempo using spaces and triangles should widen the field.

Mahler said the Trojans would go with a flat back four defense this upcoming season.

This set requires clutch midfield play.

“Just trying to give the guys a new look. I think it’s going to take them by surprise. They won’t expect the work that’s going to come with it,” Mahler said.

The JMA boys’ soccer coach likes tough scheduling. Mahler would love to see a game versus Stratford at the Georgia College’s Bobcat Field.

Hopefully, the playing the best strategy can erase past mental blocks against powerhouse teams from Macon or Augusta.

“Just because these teams have won before doesn’t mean we can’t beat them,” Mahler said. “Soccer has to realize we can have that winning mentality.”

JMA sits in a tough region with Augusta Prep, Westminster and Bulloch.

Expectations for a good year are attainable.

Mahler doesn’t feel titanic pressure yet.

“My goal is to win those close games this year. It will come down to conditioning and the little things. If we have the technique down, the rest will come,” Mahler said.

Winning over the parents used to a former coach’s style is tough. Trust and communication must remain consistent.

Mahler wants supportive Trojan parents not to be scared to ask questions.

Soccer conditioning begins right after Christmas break. Players can expect rigorous interval training.

“By the time we are allowed to practice, we can just hit the ground running and get into soccer,” the new coach said. “It’s going to be different. It will weed out the guys that might not want to do all that hard work. I’m not going to ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”

Mahler’s long-term goals build toward competing for a state championship. As for the immediate, contending for the region crown is realistic.