Pittsburg girls soccer program set to make history in season opener

Tuesday's match against Carthage will be the first in program history.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Two years ago, it was just an idea.

“We just wanted to provide a different outlet for girls that did want to play,” says Pittsburg senior Natalie Talent, “Originally, we only had two girls playing.”

Natalie Talent and her teammate Katie Rodriguez were playing with the boys on the PHS co-ed soccer team in 2019.

Until they decided it was time to have a team of their own.

“As soon as the girls went through that process and got approval from the school board, we just saw a massive increase with the interest and the numbers that came out to play,” says head soccer coach Kyle Bockover.

“Now we have a team of 26 girls that you never would have known liked soccer if there wasn’t a girls soccer team,” Talent says.

The Pittsburg girls play their first game in program history Tuesday night against Carthage.

Their entire 10-game schedule is made up of teams from Missouri – or teams from Wichita, Topeka or Gardner, Kansas – with the lack of other girls soccer programs in southeast Kansas.

“It’s going to be a tough schedule for us, to be honest about it,” Bockover adds, “We’re just doing what we can to do things now that will lead to success later. I am proud to be part of this process that hopefully will lead to change with some of the conference schools. Maybe once we get our program established, other schools can do the same.”

For Talent it’s not about the wins and losses – it’s about opportunity.

“There are a lot of people that don’t think we should have started, that we wouldn’t have enough girls and that our school is not big enough and that the program will drop off after losing the momentum of getting the first team started,” Talent adds, “I think it’s a great opportunity to prove those people wrong.”

Regardless of how the season goes, she knows that idea two years ago has turned into something that will have an impact on this team, and the girls that come after.

“Twenty years later, I’m going to look back and think wow, 20 years ago we started soccer,” Talent finishes, “It’s just really powerful to think that it just takes a couple conversations, and something big can happen that can change a lot of peoples’ lives. Soccer is not just a sport to play, but an outlet for a lot of people, and a place to come together and blend culturally and blend with so many differences.”

Pittsburg will face Carthage on the road on Tuesday night, before playing their home opener on Thursday against Neosho.