From the Bench: Newest Tribe Varsity Coach Not Far Removed from Competing on Same Athletic Venues

By Jeff Toquinto on September 06, 2020 from Sports Blog via

It is not that Sam McKinney does not understand soccer or the athletes that play the game at the high school level. After all, before taking over this year as the Bridgeport coach for the girls’ program, he had done some playing himself and coached well before his arrival at Wayne Jamison Field.
McKinney was a former all-state performer – three times actually – for the BHS soccer program. And he coached youth soccer for many years while living in Taylor County and then in Harrison County.
The credentials are clear. McKinney, however, said there is one thing that he cannot bring as a 1995 Bridgeport High School alum. And that is to truly know the mindset of the young ladies he is coaching.
That, however, should not be a problem. The reason for that is that he is not the only new paid member of the staff. Joining him on the sidelines is Olivia Oldaker, who also is more than just casually familiar with the Bridgeport soccer program.
“She knows the game, she’s an extra set of eyes, but most important, the understands the beat of the team and gives us a needed presence on the coaching staff,” said McKinney.
Oldaker is not only new to the coaching game at the high school level, she is relatively new to the world beyond the prep scene. Oldaker is a 2018 BHS alumna who played soccer her freshman, junior and senior year – taking one year off to compete in cross country.
She came back because she loved the sport. She is coaching, as one may imagine, because she loves the sport. Oldaker wants to coach bad enough that she is finding time to do it while still being in her junior year at West Virginia University studying sports and exercise psychology.
As for regular psychology, just as McKinney said, Oldaker believes she can help on a more peer level basis.
“I wanted to be in a situation where I can help coaching this team and be able to help girls who may be dealing with the same situations I dealt with while in high school just recently,” said Oldaker. “That can be a soccer issue or maybe to help with other things I have just been through.
“With sports and outside of sports, high school is a tough transition for girls, and they may come to practice and have an off day that may not be related to physically not being up to it,” she continued. “Maybe it’s something else going on and I can be that shoulder for them to get their focus back to soccer.”
McKinney said her youth will help in more than just that area. He said there are things she will know that will provide great value beyond her coaching ability.
“I can bounce stuff off of her because her playing days are still very fresh in her memory so it’s definitely a huge help to have someone from that generation in her position,” said McKinney. “For instance, she’ll know basic things like when we go to East-West Stadium where to enter, where to practice, where the facilities are at. I’m not sure I played there so just to have that knowledge is another bonus.”
Like McKinney, Oldaker has coached youth soccer prior to her arrival at BHS. She has coached with her father and has been playing since the age of four.
“I’m passionate about the game, and have learned life lessons through it,” said Oldaker. “It teaches you discipline that allows you to work toward want you want from the game that translates into what you want from life.”
Along with assisting McKinney, Oldaker’s big responsibility will be to serve as the coach of junior varsity team. When she is coaching the jayvee squad, those “extra set of eyes” McKinney said Oldaker brings to the varsity will see McKinney falling into that role to assist.
“She is a nice fit for what we’re wanting to do here,” said McKinney. “What we’re wanting to do here is to win and teach lessons at the same time.”
Editor's Note: Top photo and bottom photos show Olivia Oldaker at recent BHS practices, while she's shown during her high school days surrounded by teammates Madewa Adeniyi, left, and Imoni Saab, right. Bottom photo by Ben Queen Photography.

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