GUYTON — After serving as a volunteer coach at Effingham County Middle School, Dakota Paradice is excited to be joining the high school ranks.
Paradice was recently tapped to replace Matthew Hunnewell as the head coach of the South Effingham boys soccer team.
Paradice grew up playing soccer and was a 4-year starter for Vidalia High School. Paradice spent one season playing for Brewton-Parker before transferring to Georgia Southern, where he opted to focus on his education.
He had an opportunity to work with the soccer team at Coffee while doing a co-op at PCC Airfoils. It was then that he realized he’d much rather be serving the community.
“I found out that I like to teach people,” Paradice said. “I saw a lot of young men in soccer that didn’t come from much. I saw all these young men within soccer — you deal with a lot kids that don’t have much.
“I want to show them that it’s not just football players that can get scholarships. Soccer players can get them, too. I want to show them what I did in college and how it helped me to get to where I was.
“That’s what made me change my major.”
Paradice knows he has big shoes to fill as Hunnewell’s teams were a perennial Region 2-AAAAA favorite. Still, he wants to add more than just wins while coaching at South Effingham.
“One day I am hoping to change the whole field of how south Georgia coaches are in soccer,” Paradice said. “Where I grew up, nobody really knew what to do to make it competitive with something like Miami players. People in Georgia have great athletes. We have athletes here and I want to change the narrative going into the future. I want to push the limits so that when the next person comes in, it will be even bigger shoes to fill.”
As far as his coaching philosophy goes, Paradice believes in utilizing the strengths of his players while molding them into the best version of themselves.
“I kind of build around my player’s talents,” Paradice said. “I want to coach boys to men. I want to develop character.”
Paradice is an offensive-minded coach but will also use his math skills to his advantage.
“I like to play to our player’s ability,” he said. “I played goalie growing up so it’s a little bit easier for me to coach offense because I saw how I got scored on. So, I learned a lot from losing.
“I’m a numbers person so I have a spreadsheet of numbers I do for the middle school and I’ll probably bring a more advanced version of it and I’ll find out what I’m working with and what players fit where.
“I will be going to their travel games to scout out what I’m going to be working with. Then I’m going to build based on that.”