Ever since she was a child, Parishville-Hopkintons Kodi Perkins did not have to look far to find a mentor in soccer.
She watched her sister, Nikki, who is 6 years her senior, play her entire career, working as a ball girl at those games.
Perkins, who is a junior this fall, was too young to play in high school with her sister, but she has been able to compete on the same team with her in recent years in adult summer league games.
She knew exactly what I was going to do and I knew what she was going to do, Perkins said. We play alike. It was like having another me out there.
If Perkins sees similarities in her and her sister, imagine what her coach, Evan Harper, sees.
Not only has Harper coached all of Perkinss siblings, he also coached her mother, Toni Lee, and her aunts, Jonnie and Kari Jacot, when they played for the Panthers.
The family history indicated good possibilities, Harper said. Her sisters and her aunts have been among the top players weve ever had in the girls program here. Both (Nikki and Kodi) have excellent skills and both are super all-around athletes, and they are very good at taking advantage of any opportunities they get to score.
Kodi Perkins has been a standout for the Panthers almost from the time she joined the program as an eighth-grader. Last year, she was among the top offensive players in Section 10, scoring 13 goals with 14 assists, helping lead Parishville-Hopkinton to a 16-2-1 overall record. The Panthers reached the Section 10 Class D title game before losing 2-1 to Northern Athletic Conference East Division rival Chateaugay.
I think well be in the top two (among D schools), Harper said. There are very few in the D bracket and weve got a lot of kids back. We lost our complete set of defenders and our goalkeeper. Were moving girls around and we have young girls coming up who are decent. It will take a few games to get settled in.
Knowing that Harper coached almost everyone in her family has made things easier for Perkins.
Theyve been through the same things, they know how it works, Perkins said of her family. He knows how we work. Its easier than a stranger coaching. He hasnt changed much. Hes fun. He interacts with us, not like other teachers would. He shows us what we do. He may have an older style of doing it, but the way he does it is sufficient.
One trait Perkins shares with her older sister is a competitive nature. She has not forgotten that she was one game away from participating in the state playoffs last season.
I dont want to come up one game short this year, Perkins said. The last two years Ive been working on getting all the girls going. We have to keep the ball moving. We think about that game a lot just to motivate us. We want to win that one more game and keep going.
Perkins has always put the teams needs first, which helped her adjust to being so young on the varsity. When she scored a lot as an eighth-grader she did not cause any envy among the older players.
When I was little I kept my mouth shut a lot on the field, Perkins said. I also tried to keep it shut in practice. I tried to learn from them. They saw I wasnt just a young girl on the team or an extra body out there, I could help.
The last two seasons Perkins was the target of more defensive attention, but she used that to find open teammates and set them up for goals.
When its full-on defense like that you have to look up and look for the other passes to get someone to score, Perkins said. It doesnt matter who scores, as long as we get the goal.
SECTION 10 OUTLOOK
While boys soccer moved back to three divisions, girls soccer will still use a four-division format this season, but the East Division will consist of only four teams: Chateaugay, Colton-Pierrepont, Parishville-Hopkinton and St. Regis Falls.
Chateaugay and the Panthers were the top two teams in the East Division last year, each finishing with 21 points.
Heuvelton, Hermon-DeKalb and Lisbon were the top teams in the West Division last year.
Massena was the best team in the Central last year, finishing 7-0-1, but will be challenged by Potsdam and Malone, as well as Canton, which returns to the division this year. The top teams in the North Division should be Brushton-Moira and Tupper Lake.
Several individual standouts return as well. Joining Perkins as top offensive players returning are Chateaugays Courtney Boyea (18 goals and 9 assists), Massenas Dominique Valancius (14-6), Chateaugays Alexis Beach (12-8) and Cantons Emily Rexford (9-7).