Northeast Tarrant

Panthers captains lead by example, encouragement

The Colleyville Heritage boys soccer team opens the season with a new head coach but plenty of returning talent and experience on the field. The Panthers are looking to nab a winning season and build a strong team in the process.

“We have a great group of boys, said head coach Adam Phillips. “The preseason allowed us to see what we need to work on. I believe our main strength is our team chemistry; there is an amazing spirit, belief, and camaraderie among the team.”

Helping lead the team are two of the Panthers’ team captains, James Jackson and Ryan Jakszta.

“I chose James as a captain due to the respect he has from his teammates and from me,” Phillips said. “He demonstrates leadership by organizing the team and setting a great example in training. Also, James motivates his team to function at a higher level and has a great attitude each and every day.”

The defender takes his responsibility as captain personally.

“Being a leader doesn't mean I get to sit back and tell people what to do. I should always be working just as hard, if not harder, as anyone else on the team,” Jackson said. “I should act on and off the field, as I would want my teammates to act. I should respect my teammates and coach the same way I want them to respect each other and myself.”

Forward Jakszta provides motivation to his fellow players.

“Ryan is highly respected by his teammates and me; he is an excellent player that leads by example,” Phillips said. “Ryan has a great attitude; he is always friendly and helpful.”

“I believe that what makes me a good leader is being able to stay positive and lead by example,” Jakszta said. “When someone on my team doesn’t make the right pass or loses the ball, instead of degrading him to where he feels discouraged and thinks about it more than he has to, I give him a suggestion for the next play so he can improve on his own, without the negative criticism that he would get if I were to just yell at him.”

Despite his experience, Jackson is still willing to improve.

“Throughout this season, I am trying to pick up my level of consistency. I should be able to come out every game and play at the same high intensity that I know I am capable of,” he said. “If I am not reaching this potential at any given game, then I need to practice harder and prepare better for the next one.”

Jakszta agrees.

“There is always a way to improve your play, whether it be on the field or off, physical or mental,” he said. “I know that I am hard on myself for small things, and I am always trying to change my views from being negative to positive.”

That attitude is one Phillips hopes will drive the team to success.

“Last year we competed well in each game and are looking to do the same this year,” he said. “As a team, we want to make the playoffs; we understand that to make the playoffs, we must improve each day. Improving each day is what we focus on and our main goal.”

“For my senior season, my main goal for our team is to win state,” Jackson said. “I believe we have the skill level and the heart to do so, so I am excited to see where this season takes us.”

Jakszta may still have one more year as a Panther, but he is no less driven.

“I want to lead my team to a great season in district, as well as have a successful outcome in playoffs,” he said. “I know my team is more than capable to achieve these two goals, and I believe that we will do even more throughout the season.”

The Panthers opened district play on Tuesday, after the press deadline, against Euless Trinity at Pennington Field in Bedford.