CHARLOTTE – Lee Horton has coached a lot of talented girls’ soccer players at Charlotte Latin over the past three decades. That wealth of talent had produced 10 state championships heading into the 2017 season last spring.
Horton, however, may not ever coach a girls team as talented as last year’s group. With five major Division I college soccer prospects on the field, Horton led Latin to the school’s third-straight NCISSA 3A State Championship as the Hawks finished the season with an 18-1-2 record. The state title was the Hawks’ eighth in the last 10 seasons.
That resume resulted in the United Soccer Coaches organization naming Horton the girls’ private high school National Coach of the Year. Horton will receive his award Jan. 19 during the organization’s national convention in Philadelphia, Pa.
Horton has coached both the girls’ and boys’ soccer teams at the school since 1985 and he has an overall career record of 1,033-298-132, which includes five seasons at the Greenfield School in Wilson. In addition to the 11 girls’ state championships at Latin, Horton has also won seven boys’ state titles at the school.
“I was surprised, I was excited, I was honored and humbled,” Horton said of learning about receiving the award. “It’s pretty crazy to get something like that out of the whole country. I’m really, really excited. All of my family is going to go to the banquet.”
Horton said the caliber of student-athletes and a great support system at Latin has been the key to success for the soccer programs.
“I have been blessed to be at a great school with a lot of great kids and parents,” Horton said. “I have been truly blessed. I considered moving to the collegiate ranks after I had been here 10, 15 years. But when all was said and done and when I weighed all the options, I didn’t think there was anything that was better. This is a great place to work. My children got a great education here and they were well prepared for college. The good Lord has really blessed me through it all.”
The Latin girls were productive on both ends of the field in 2017 as the Hawks posted 16 shutouts and gave up just eight goals all season. They scored 80 goals in 21 games. Latin outscored its opponents 13-0 in the postseason.
“Last year’s team was arguably the most talented team we have ever had,” Horton said. “We had five, not just D-1, but major D-1 kids on the roster at one high school. That just doesn’t happen very often.”