Girls soccer in the area is going to look a bit different this season.
With only seven teams in Franklin and Fulton counties, two of those squads will be under new direction. In addition, Mercersburg Academy has hired a pair of new coaches.
Ed Franchi is the latest in a string of various coaches for Chambersburg's girls team, while McConnellsburg will have a new man in charge for the first time in its history.
Twelve years ago, Toby McGarvey started the Spartans' girls soccer program, and he's been there ever since. But now, Chris Mellott, who was the assistant varsity boys coach for four seasons, will take over.
"Toby had been there since the creation of girls soccer at McConnellsburg, so when he asked me if I'd be interested in taking over, it was kind of an honor for me," Mellott said. "As head coach, there's always pressure for your team to perform. But to step into Coach McGarvey's shoes, he had such a positive impact on the program. We're just going to try to hit the ground running."
Like Mellott, Franchi has the advantage of being familiar with the Trojans' program. He had the opportunity to watch many of his girls this summer at a team camp with Shippensburg University women's coach Rob Fulton. A longtime youth coach, Franchi remains determined to focus on the program as a whole.
"We want to make sure they're preparing, playing club ball and getting familiar with the sport," Franchi said at Mid Penn Soccer Media Day. "We hope they're getting the technical components under their belts, so then I can hopefully teach them more tactical stuff."
For the Blue Storm, Carl Stenslad will coach the boys soccer team, while Katy Brake will head the girls volleyball team. Both coaches face their own set of disadvantages.
Stenslad hails from Connecticut and will take on his first head coaching stint, and although Brake has been with the JV volleyball team for three years, she was not announced as the varsity head coach until Monday.
"We couldn't find a quality coach that could meet our needs, and it was getting close to the wire," Brake said. "Since I was already here as the JV coach, (athletic director Rick Hendrickson) asked if I would mind. We had discussions about it and thought this would be best for the program."
Stenslad does have assistant coaching experience at Eastern Connecticut State, from where he graduated in 2013. This season, he hopes to build on what the team already knows and develop new game strategies.
"As far as soccer specifically, I think Quentin McDowell did a nice job of instilling a style of keeping the ball," Stenslad said. "Those are in line with my values, too. I also hope to focus on working hard defensively. I want to be out-working other teams; that's kind of my philosophy."
In addition, Chambersburg will also have one other new coach, as Mark Luther has taken over the football program.