In 1990, Laura Rountree decided to take on the role of head coach for the JV and varsity girls soccer team at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She took the job as an opportunity to implement her soccer and teaching skills, and build a highly competitive team made up of high school girls.
Rountree grew up with soccer. As she advanced her abilities on the field, she was able to become a prominent athlete herself. This included taking her soccer career to college level.
After college, she became a teacher but still looked to incorporate soccer into her life in the best way possible. So, she achieved her goal by becoming the head coach of the girls’ soccer team.
“I have loved soccer since I played in college, so it’s really fun for me to be able to balance it with the rest of my life,” Rountree said.
Rountree, with her wide knowledge of soccer and mentoring abilities, made strong connections with the girls on her team every year. By building team chemistry, Rountree’s team rarely fell short of playoffs and established communication as a key factor towards their success.
Over time, Rountree further improved her ability to create great bonds within the team as she was challenged with having to add new players to the roster every season.
“We have a nice mixture of returning players and new players, and, every year, we deal with losing seniors,” Rountree said. “The challenge is rebuilding that chemistry with the new players. Gotta’ get the JV players used to the system and the way we play.”
Evidently, Rountree was able to do so, with her team producing successful seasons continuously. The most notable achievement throughout Rountree’s continuous success is when she led her team to four straight state-championships, authenticating her skills as a coach.
Those four straight championships were won during her first tenure as MSD’s girls’ soccer coach, which ended in 2006. Rountree then took time off to coach her daughter’s soccer team and to have some time to herself as she waited for the right opportunity to return.
Eventually, in 2018, Rountree was asked to take over a teaching position at MSD as a peer counseling instructor. During her return, she received her former duties as the head soccer coach, which brought the team to more long awaited victories.
“I teach Peer Counseling two periods a day which gives me time to come home and relax, then go back and coach the girls,” Rountree said.
Even with her shortened school day, balancing these responsibilities shows Rountree’s dedication to the soccer team. Her love of the sport is displayed with her reaction to the girls’ soccer season being cut short due to COVID-19 this year and the team not being able to fully prepare for their games.
“The potential of the team is very high, even if we’ve only played 4 games while other districts have played a full schedule,” Rountree said.“We got through tryouts and were shut down, had a week of training before winter break and had to go right into games.”
Her disappointment at the loss of a full season shows how strong her connection with the team really is. She assured the team followed protocols and stayed safe during the uncertain circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Now, Rountree looks forward to a post-season tournament for her girls to have a chance at another championship.
Rountree is a staple in the MSD girls soccer team, players always know they can be successful under her coaching.
“She always pushes us to be our best and inspires us to work hard every day,” junior defender Calista McCausland (6) said.
She continues to show pride for her team and displays dedication to the school by working as a coach and a teacher, and is always appreciated by the players and staff who get to work with her.
“Coach Rountree has been a coach involved in my life for over 10 years, and getting to work by her side these past two seasons has been amazing,” assistant coach Mackenzie Malone said. “She is a great coach to the girls, but also a great mentor to me. She is so knowledgeable and understanding and hard-working, and those traits trickle down into each and every one of her players.”
Rountree keeps adding to her résumé as the head soccer coach for the MSD girls team, and she persists to do so by continuously exemplifying her connection to the sport.