Campin’ with the Navigators: A new coaching staff, including some ex-Huskers, means a new look | high school soccer

Old meets new at the Lincoln North Star.

Longtime Navigators assistant James Thompson is the new head coach. He succeeds Tony Kobza after spending nine years as an assistant.

Two of Thompson’s new assistants fit in, too, but stand out.

And North Star players try to create cohesion with a small group of senior leaders and a large group of talented underclasses.

“It’s been a big adjustment. I’ve got more on my plate, obviously. The kids have adjusted to the expectations that we have; the pace at which we play, the patterns and things of that nature,” Thompson said Monday. as the Gators opened Week 2 of preseason training.

“But we’re starting to feel comfortable and locked in to be on the same page.”

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There is work to do. North Star have lost 12 of their last 13 games, with the only win coming in last season’s opener against Class B Hastings.

But the infusion of new blood allowed the Gators to learn to approach things with a new mindset.

“The mentality has changed a lot from being a more losing team to, we’re actually going to win games, and we have the ability to do that,” said elder Kade Seip.

Will the Gators surprise people this year?

“We are,” Seip said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people, actually.”

Seip saw the struggles. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound player set a school record with 60 solo tackles, breaking current Husker Luke Reimer’s record, in North Star’s 1-8 year in 2021.

This season, Seip is balancing his senior year by working his way through the recruiting process that includes offers from NCAA Division II programs Augustana, Southwest Minnesota State and William Jewell.

He receives advice on this front from two good sources. Former Huskers Tommy Armstrong and Alonzo Moore are the assistants for this year’s North Star team.

“It’s pretty cool, recruiting-wise. You can ask them all these questions, ask them for advice on things,” Seip said.

There’s also the on-court advantage of having two former Nebraska players not so far removed from their playing days in college.

“They get attached and sometimes play with us,” Seip said. “It’s pretty cool to see that talent too.”

Armstrong is the team’s offensive coordinator while Moore coaches receivers.

Armstrong, the former Husker quarterback, is completely professional on the practice field.

Before Monday’s practice began, it was Armstrong who called the Gators together and informed them that they would be running as part of the discipline for a small group of players wearing the wrong practice jersey.

A few minutes later, as the Gators worked on a quick attack drill. Armstrong stopped things and brought in a new group of receivers when the run slipped.

“Kids are thrilled to be coached by someone who has the knowledge and experience they have,” Thompson said. “He holds them accountable, he has very high expectations and they accept that.”

And any moments the North Star players were hit by the former Husker QB quickly faded in the opener of training last week.

“After the first day they realized, hey, he’s here to train us,” Thompson said.

Whether the Gators can make a step forward in Class A could depend on how the team reacts to coaching from Thompson and his assistants.

“They show up, they’re ready to work, they can be coached, they want to be here,” Thompson said. “It’s been a joy training them.”