In only its second season, Fox Creek High School's soccer team has made major improvements over last year.
Just before spring break, the team had a 4-7 record with three games remaining in the season. Last year, the team only won one game.
Helping to keep the opposing team from scoring this year is junior Jamie Palmer.
"He's a real strong defender," said Brooke Rushing, the head coach of the coed team. "He's more like an entire team leader."
Jamie started the sport when he was in elementary school, but said he took a few seasons off. He originally tried out for the team because he wanted to be able to participate in something some of his friends were doing, but Ms. Rushing said he possesses good skills the team needs.
"He's good at clearing the ball," she said.
Before coming to Fox Creek, Jamie's grades came between him and playing sports, and he said he's proud of the fact that he's brought his grade point average up.
"I went from a 0.7 to a 2.0 to be able to play," he said.
Ms. Rushing said that Jamie is a motivator on the field. In practice, he really steps up," she said. "He's good with everyone. He interacts with them a lot."
Jamie also played on Fox Creek's first football team last fall.
"I played eight positions," he said. "I'm willing to try anything once."
The inaugural team only had 14 players so most played several positions during the season.
Jamie lined up as a running back, quarterback, worked the trenches as part of the offensive line and saw time on the other side of the ball as a cornerback and linebacker, he said.
Next season, he said it would be nice to play only one position on the gridiron, but said he's willing to help out where needed.
Jamie said he enjoys playing sports for several reasons.
"I like being in shape all year round," he said.
Another plus is that "sports are keeping me out of trouble," he said.
Athletics aren't the only area that interests the Fox Creek junior.
Jamie has a strong artistic side and said he enjoys graphic arts - pencil drawing, painting and calligraphy. With fellow Fox Creek classmate, Chris "Bob" Zietlow, who plays goalie on the soccer team, Jamie has developed a Web design business.
"Bob and I are both creative; we are both really artistic," he said.
Jamie hasn't decided exactly what he wants to do after high school. He said he likes building Web pages and hopes to go into Web hosting. He said he also would like to continue with his art.
"I haven't figured out what I want to major in," he said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.