Crisman Elementary second grade teacher Ashley Severs has a difficult task ahead of her as she tries to lead the Portage High School girls soccer program back to relevance after several down years. However, the 2004 PHS graduate is ready to make the most of her opportunity to call the shots for the varsity team.
“It’s a lot of fun to be back,” Severs said. “People are asking if I am going to get those girls to perform the way we did when I was here. It’s exciting though, I’m excited. I enjoy doing it.”
After a stellar playing stint that extended through her college days at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, Severs developed her coaching career as an assistant at both Portage and Wheeler, gaining further knowledge that she will apply this year.
“I learned about being organized and making sure that there’s a purpose,” she said. “You have to tell the players, ‘we’re going to work on this today so that this is our outcome.’ Just giving the girls explanations so that they know the purpose and work a little harder for it.”
Severs received the news of her elevation to the head coaching role in December. That very day, she already began preparation for the upcoming season.
“I was excited, but at the same time the day I got hired I went home and I already started working on scheduling and expectations for these girls. It’s been in full motion since about December,” she said.
Severs has been developing ways to make sure that her team is hard-working and motivated. She believes that when a team develops those traits it goes a long way toward winning.
“I expect 110 percent. Obviously, we’re going to try to go out and win more games than we did last year,” she said. “The girls know that, but we still have high expectations hoping we perform with those top teams in the area.”
A year ago Severs was shocked to find that some of the girls were out there on the field thinking that they could not wait for games to be over. Don’t expect to hear that out of any of the lady-Indians in 2012.
“I think they’re more positive and more confident this year,” she said. “There’s a group of them that is pushing the rest of the team, which is great.”
Leading that group is two sport star Nicki Monahan, who returns for her fourth and final year on the varsity soccer pitch. Monahan’s experience and leadership are crucial in helping Severs build this young team.
Severs expects break out seasons from senior Lauren Zack, sophomore Carrie Prohl and sophomore Julia Ashby.
“Our sophomore class is our largest right now and we have quite a few players that we are expecting to see perform very well in the next couple of years,” she said.
The core of assistant coaches includes Matt Hutchins, her former teammate Renee Grant and her former coach Jesse Mendez.
“He started coaching me when I was about eight year old,” Severs said. “He coached me all the way through high school. When I wasn’t with the high school team, I was working with him. It’s great to have him on my staff because there are times where it’s like, ‘Oh hey, throwback moment’ and it works, so it’s kind of nice to have that experience.”
Being the head coach of the Portage girls soccer team simply feels right for Severs, who was raised in the city.
“I grew up here; I bought my first home here; I’m a teacher in Portage; it just felt right,” she said. “It’s a good place to be.”