WHEELING - Two new coaches are ready to lead Wheeling Park into the season, which begins Monday at Oak Glen.
Shane Early will lead the boys' squad while Park alumnus Luke Hladek leads the girls' squad.
The boys team will be buoyed by the return of two seniors, Shaun Hunley and Zack Marra.
Other than that, the team will feature several new faces, so it will be incumbent upon Hunley and Marra, also a soccer player at Park, to be leaders.
"Both are very good players," Early said. "They are seniors and they want to go out on top. They have a ton of experience so we will depend on them to kind of show our young players the ropes. We have a very eclectic mix of players who don't have a lot of experience and with those guys being four-year players, we will depend on them to help them get through the early part of the season."
Early has set up the beginning of the season as a learning phase as a time for young players like Ollie Marra and Jared Jordan to get some experience in filling the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.
Among those early foes are tough regional matches against the likes of University and Morgantown.
It's all designed to set up the youngsters for a late run, which includes a very tough stretch of 10 matches in 13 days to end the season.
"By the time we make it through the first half we hope they are ready for the tough stretch to end the season," Early said.
The girls' team is set up in very similar fashion.
Like the boys, two seniors will lead the Patriots.
Lexie Patterson and Mackenzie Rodgers are the two leaders.
"They are setting the tone," Hladek said. "We've only been able to get outside a couple of days so it is nice to have that experience we can rely on for the younger kids in the program. We have three freshman on the team so we have a solid mix of experience and new players in the program."
Claudine Ayala is another senior who will factor into the single seeds while Marianna Kibak, a freshman, is battling for the fourth spot.
Julianna Pond and Miriam Demasi are also pushing for playing time and could fill out the doubles field nicely for Hladek.
"I haven't coached tennis before but I am the girls' assistant soccer coach and I am a teacher at Park and I went to Park, so I am familiar with the program," Hladek said. "I'm excited to get started. I think Shane and I will have a good partnership with our programs and it is going to be a fun season."