ORANGE PARK, Fla — Almost no team on the First Coast has won more than the St Johns Country Day girls soccer team. And the nationally ranked, 11-time defending state champions make winning on the soccer field a family affair.
They proudly say that they are Champions in the making. But head coach Mike Pickett keeps his championship level players grounded.
"It's a sport first of all, its not life," says St Johns Country Day class of 2012 grad Carson Pickett. , "it teaches life lessons, you're not defined by your performance and don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough."
This team has been good enough to do pretty much anything on a soccer field in recent years. It helps to have multiple Division-1 bound athletes on the team every year; including one who came back to help coach.
"Having the opportunity to coach with my dad is a dream," says Pickett.
Pickett is also a member of the US Women's National Team and the daughter of the head coach. Before she leaves for training with her professional team she's helping her dad coach his team.
"She's helped this program out a lot and helped other girls understand how things are when you get to a higher level," says St Johns Country Day senior Lauryn Mateo.
But Carson does more than just teach techniques about soccer on the field, she imparts wisdom about life.
"Like my dad says, never let anyone turn your sky into a ceiling," says Carson Pickett, "so never let anyone tell you that you can't do anything or bring you down."
Born without a left forearm, Carson never let a perceived handicap turn her sky into a ceiling. It's a message that led her to the National Team, and a message that she shares with the next crop of Champions.
"She's proven to us, proven to multiple people and proven to the world that you can do anything," says Mateo.
"I have 3 championships and I thought that was amazing back in the day and some of these girls have 6 and even 7," says Carson Pickett, "so they're winners, that's what I think about this program, and these girls, they're winners."
There's still a lot of soccer to be played this season, but sometimes it's nice to look back on everything this program has accomplished as they grow together.
"It's cool looking at practices and working really hard for it and doing it with our best friends," says St Johns Country Day senior Avery Raimondo.
And that's a sentiment they'll share in future years with the next crop of Champions.
"When my former players get together they never talk about a state championship or a game," says Mike Pickett, "it's always a bus ride or something that happened in practice that was funny and that's when you sit back and realize we're teaching life lessons and it's the journey that matters."