Senior Captain Aaron McDaniel Leads Boys Soccer Team

Sam Findley, Staff Writer

After graduating 16 players from a team that went 13-1-2 before losing to Perry Meridian in the sectional semi-finals, the boys soccer team entered this year with a unique challenge: filling empty leadership roles.
“I think I’ve always been a leader,” senior varsity captain Aaron McDaniel said. “I’ve just been too shy. I haven’t been willing to get in people’s faces and encourage them and push them to become whatever they want to be. I’ve had to change the way of being a leader. I’ve been starting for the varsity team for the past three seasons and with basically the whole team being new to varsity, I know that they looked up to me and I know they will listen to me if I give them advice. On the field, when I tell them ways to help them get better, they listen and it eventually helps out the team.”
Head Coach Jameson McLaughlin believes McLaughlin leads more by action both in practice and during games.
“Aaron leads more by example,” McLaughlin said. “Even though he is our best player, he works harder than anyone at practice and that can be infectious. To see your best player working hard helps drive the rest of the team to work hard as well.”
With only five players returning with varsity experience, it’s been up to younger players to step up.
“All of the starters have stepped up. I’m the only returning starter from last year, but [sophomore] Landen Montfort has stepped up, [sophomore] Caden York has stepped up and so has [freshman] Ely Detty,” McDaniel said. “We have two freshmen on varsity right now, and they definitely have the capability to step it up and be the future and grow the program.”
While McDaniel remains the sole captain this year, York has learned a lot from the leadership of McDaniel.
“Seeing how Aaron was able to lead this team and take up as the role of captain, I have certainly taken a lot from him on how to be a good teammate,” York said. “He will definitely continue to lead this team throughout our season and hopefully next year I will be able to continue his ability to our team.”
McDaniel has also relied on his fellow seniors, like Keoni Shake, to help fill the leadership void left by last year’s seniors.
“Keoni Shake is our center back this year. He has been on JV the past few years, but he has stepped it up. He has definitely been more of a vocal leader. I think he’s definitely shown more of a leadership role that I’ve seen,” said McDaniel.
McLaughlin knows that Center Grove’s success this week in the sectional tournament will rely on the entire team adopting McDaniel’s attitude.
“We are a marked team because we are CG,” McLaughlin said. “With this being the case, we get everyone’s best effort. If we can all work as hard as Aaron, and be as focused as Aaron, then I have no doubt we can win the sectional.”