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East High starts first soccer team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Something new is kicking off at East High School. And it's not what you'd expect.

The school, which heralds its basketball and football teams, now offers soccer for the first time.

“I was very much surprised," senior Ambria Lucas said.

But it wasn’t easy amid East's staunch athletic traditions.

“For the past three years, we’ve been championship winners in our football and basketball programs,” Principal Marilyn Peete-Hilliard said.

But when Spanish teacher Madeline Spolin transferred to East from Raleigh-Egypt High School this summer, she was determined. She already led that school’s soccer team fundraising efforts for new uniforms.

“They would say, 'Actually, you’re probably not going to get enough people and they never got it off the ground,' or like, ‘Yeah, I think you’re like the eighth person to try to start a soccer team so good luck.' People would just say that to my face as if I wasn’t going to do anything about it,” Spolin said.

But she proved them wrong; she nagged students to join the team by luring them to meetings with the promise of doughnuts.

Senior Marlyna Wordlow joined, despite never having played soccer before.

“I learned how aggressive it was, how my adrenaline came up with it. I love this sport,” she said.

"People are starting to feel like this is a real team and victory and things are going to happen," Spolin said.

In fact, Wordlow scored the first soccer goal for the school in one of the first games this season.

“When I got there I felt like everything stopped, I just kicked the ball in,” the senior said.

"We’ve been celebrating that accomplishment for her because I told her, 'You'll get to go in the history books,'” Peete-Hilliard said.

Her only regret is she couldn't play more than one year.

Spolin said she also planned to start a new boys' team in the spring.