Sports Person of the Week
Merriam Sees Fantastic Freshman Campaign
Freshman Cole Merriam netted seven goals to help the H-K boys’ soccer squad enjoy a championship season in the fall of 2020. (Photo courtesy of Cole Merriam )
Cole Merriam made a memorable debut with the Haddam-Killingworth boys’ soccer team during the 2020 fall season. In his freshman year, Cole scored seven goals and had two assists for the Cougars, while helping them claim a Shoreline Conference championship.
“My favorite moment was definitely winning the Shoreline title,” says Cole. “My teammates and I had put so much work in practicing almost every day and have made so many sacrifices for the team. When it finally paid off, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
Cole’s motivation for playing soccer came at an early age. Cole signed up for his first soccer squad as soon as he met the age requirement.
“I have been playing since I have been able to walk and joined my first team as soon as I was old enough to do so,” Cole says. “My favorite aspect of soccer is definitely how competitive it is. I love how every game is a battle. My biggest influence into soccer was my dad as he also played throughout his high school and college years.”
After H-K went 2-14 in 2019, Cole brought a new type of fire to the Cougars last fall, according to first-year Head Coach Mike Mead. When H-K faced East Hampton in the Shoreline final, Cole scored the lone goal of the game to lead his team to a 1-0 victory and the conference crown.
“Cole’s presence alone changed this team immensely. He brought confidence to everyone on and off the pitch,” says Mead. “I think Cole being a freshman allowed him to go under the radar, which benefited us with other teams not knowing him right away and focusing on our other players. Other teams quickly caught on.”
Cole was able to post some excellent stats as a freshman, despite being sidelined for a few games early in the season. Coach Mead thinks that Cole would have scored at least 10 goals on the year if he had played in every contest.
“Cole is a kid that can do it all. He’s a freshman playing like a senior and doesn’t back down to anyone. His biggest change was moving from a striker to more of a holding position, where we can play through him and build forward instead of trying to play long balls. That was a change we made with about two games left in regular season, and we never looked back after that,” Mead said. “Cole’s a First Team All-Conference-caliber guy, even as a freshman, and should have a very strong high school career. I could only imagine he will be on everyone’s game-plan come the start of next year.”
Cole dedicates a great deal of time to becoming the best soccer player that he can be. When he isn’t playing games, Cole works hard on his own time in order to maximize his potential on the pitch.
“Soccer is the only sport that I play at the moment,” says Cole. “I try to not only work as hard as I can in practices and games, but I also try to put in as much work outside of that as possible, which over time, has really helped me step up my game.”
In addition to playing for H-K, Cole is also a member of the age 16-19 boys’ soccer team with Farmington Sports Arena. Although the Cougars are graduating plenty of key players from their recent championship run, Cole still believes that they have another great campaign in store in 2021.
“For the next season, I’m expecting the team to really step up. We are losing a lot of great senior players, but I think the team is ready to put in the work and fill those holes the best we can,” Cole says. “With that, I think many great things are to come.”