Farmington High School junior Arin Coleman helps first-year coach guide younger teammates this season
FARMINGTON — Junior Arin Coleman scored four goals during the Farmington girls soccer team's 3-0 run at the Taos Tournament this weekend, but her value to the young team exceeds her statistics on the score sheet.
The Lady Scorpions program is going through a transitional period. Longtime head coach Shannon Gill was replaced during the off-season by Brynn Chavez Cochran, and last year's captains Bailey Carter and Hannah Kelley — who scored a team-high 35 goals — have graduated.
But as her young teammates adjust to a new voice on the sidelines, Coleman provides them with a familiar one, helping them battle with change.
"We had Eliza Merrion and Felicia (Moseley) step up and do big things for us this weekend. Working with them is different because I'm used to working with Hannah Kelley and Payton Sandoval-Belt," Coleman said, referring to two former players who have since graduated. "They did amazing, they listened to me. It's weird being the leader."
Farmington has only two seniors on its 2016 roster. Last year, the more senior-laden group went 17-3 and won a District 1-5A title. Still, Coleman, a center forward, recalls a lot of tension among teammates. She said modeling a positive attitude for her teammates has been one of her focuses this summer.
"We had a lot of negativity last year," Coleman said. "And so the times we did come together and show positivity — the little that we had last year — made a major difference."
Chavez Cochran said Coleman's four goals in Farmington's first three games — three of which came during a 10-0 thrashing of Santa Fe — were nice, but it's what Coleman does behind the scenes that makes her such an asset.
"Anybody just watching her can see how talented she is, but what they don't see is at practice, her talking to other girls, supporting other girls and giving 100 percent," Chavez Cochran said. "She has definitely slid right into that leadership role."
Coleman's teammates may be more inclined to listen to her because she has clout. Not only has Coleman gotten off to a hot offensive start this year, but she also finished second on the team last year in goals with 15.
For the first time, Coleman participated in club soccer during the off-season, playing for the Rio Rapids, the No. 1 club team in New Mexico.
"That's intense soccer," Coleman said.
The level of competition was high, according to Coleman, who played in games against top clubs from northern and southern California, as well as Idaho. If her time with Rio Rapids taught her anything, it was to attack more often.
"From my eighth-grade year to now, I probably wasn't as aggressive as I'm becoming now," Coleman said.
Also pushing her to be the best player she can be is the presence of her little sister, McKenzie, who last year tied the older Coleman for second on the team in points with 36. The Colemans are one of two sister duos on the FHS roster, along with Cheyenne and Ha'teya Holloman.
Chavez Cochran said there is visible chemistry between the Hollomans, who play together on defense, as well as the Colemans, who are seemingly on the same page every time they run together in the open field.
"You really see that dynamic where they know what the other is going to do," Chavez Cochran said. "I joke with them that it's their little sister vibe. They see plays, they read them and it's just amazing."
Arin Coleman has no bitterness toward her little sister, and actually said she looks up to her. Chavez Cochran said the impact they have on each other is strictly positive.
"What's amazing with them is the way they encourage each other," Chavez Cochran said. "I thought having the sisters would mean more bickering sometimes. But actually, they push each other more."
Coleman calls her little sister "a stud" on the field, and though their sibling rivalry stays under wraps for the most part, she said it can come out in certain situations.
"We try not to go up against each other in (one on one) drills," Coleman joked. "Because it probably won't work out."
It will be tough for Farmington to top last year's 17-3 record, especially with only 10 upperclassmen on the roster, but the older Coleman thinks the Lady Scorps' team unity gives them a leg up on the competition.
"People are underestimating us, to be honest," she said. "Yes, we're very young, but like coach Brynn says, we have a lot of heart and a team mentality. And that can take us very far."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.
A closer look: Arin Coleman
1. Favorite team?
"The San Francisco Giants."
2. Favorite athlete?
3. Favorite food?
"Mac and cheese."
4. Favorite show on Netflix?
5. Favorite subject in school?
6. Least favorite subject?
7. Biggest fear?
"Sharks. I hate sharks."
8. Do you play any other sports?
"No, I used to play tennis."
9. What is the first thing you would do with $1 million?
"I would probably pay for college. Then pay for my sisters' colleges and give the rest to my parents."
10. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
"Our teammates, we write a word that we want to work on in the game, on our ribs."