There are some DeSoto County high school soccer players who will have an extra game to play in early June and this one will give them a chance to connect with a future college soccer home.
A new organization based in Georgia, Southeast All-American Sports LLC, was formed early this year to promote high school and club soccer talent. It has a High School Soccer Showcase event set for June 11-13 at Providence Christian Academy in the Atlanta metropolitan area city of Lilburn, Georgia. At least 35 college soccer programs, from Division I to junior college, will have representatives there to scout and recruit players to their schools. Twelve of those schools are Division I programs.
The DeSoto County contingent taking part consists of a trio of players from the Lewisburg girls’ soccer team and two players from the boys’ program.
Lewisburg girls competing are juniors Rylee Braden and Bailey Bergman, who were placed on Team West, and their Lady Patriot teammate Madyson Helm, a sophomore, who will be playing against them on Team East. Only one other Mississippi player was selected; that being Emma Kate Uithoven of Lamar School in Meridian. She will be Helm’s teammate on Team East.
Only two Mississippi boys were chosen for the Showcase and they are both from Lewisburg: sophomore Hogan Payne on Team East and junior Jason Hoffman on Team Stripes.
Tyler Peneda is the founder of Southeast All-American Sports LLC. Peneda is currently a girls’ soccer coach at a Gainesville, Georgia high school, and said social media was the vehicle to determine who he calls the “rising seniors” of soccer talent in the Southeast, the top 58 boys and top 58 girls.
“It all started by following teams, high school and club teams from different states, and looking within each profile to find those players,” Peneda said. “It was a very long process. Right now we’re pushing almost 4,000 people on social media.”
Peneda added the rosters are subject to change before being finalized on May 10, when coaches for the Showcase will also be announced. He wants this event to become the top soccer recruitment event in the Southeast.
“We want to bridge the gap between high school athletics and club athletics,” Peneda said. “There are some pretty talented players in high school, but they don't have the simple financial means to afford club soccer year-round. We wanted to combine both club and high school players with recruitment.”
DeSoto County is becoming more of a high school soccer presence in the state of Mississippi. While it was Center Hill that won the MHSAA 5A boys’ state title this past year, it was Lewisburg that was the first boys’ state champion from the county just two years ago, also in 5A.
Both Lewisburg teams dropped first-round playoff games in their initial year as a 6A school this past season. However, while the boys were heading to a 5A state title two years ago, the Lewisburg girls at the same time reached the 5A North Half finals in 2019 before dropping a 1-0 decision to eventual state winner Oxford-Lafayette.