Chiefs, Seahawks follow Mueller’s Alabama roots

Whoever said you can’t go home again never met North Myrtle Beach boys soccer coach Jason Mueller. He took his team and his biggest rival back to his hometown in North Alabama for spring break to compete in a tournament.

The trip includes a showdown with his alma mater, Muscle Shoals High, which is coached by his father. The Chiefs delivered a 7-1 win over the Trojans and his dad Tuesday, while Myrtle Beach battled to a 4-2 victory over Russellville. On Wednesday, NMB defeated Russellville 4-1, while Myrtle Beach suffered a 4-0 loss to Florence.

“My dad played semi-pro soccer in Germany and he coached at Bradshaw (High in Florence, AL), but I went to Muscle Shoals and we didn’t have a soccer team,” said Mueller, who played football and soccer at the nearby University of North Alabama. “Soccer has grown a lot since I was there, so it’s great to get to go back and be a part of that with my team.”

Not just his team, but one of their most bitter rivals in Myrtle Beach. After planning the trip to take his team on the 10-hour bus trip, Mueller was having dinner with Seahawks coach and close friend Jason Himmelsbach, who also wanted his team to join in the trip. After earning the approval of both of their athletics directors, the Chiefs and Seahawks joined forces for the tour de Bama.

“There is a rivalry between our schools but a lot of our guys grew up playing travel ball together and they’re friends off the field,” Mueller said. “We’ve made it clear to them that when we’re there, we are all family. We have a lot of off-the-field activities planned and we believe it’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”

For Himmselbach, it’s an opportunity for his team to experience something new and different. “We’ve been to places like Jekyll Island (GA) for a weekend, but this is definitely unique for an Horry County school or any South Carolina team,” he said. “It’s going to be a great experience.”

In addition to playing at least three soccer matches, the Chiefs and Seahawks also plan to visit the NASA Space and Rocket Museum in nearby Huntsville (AL), the historic Helen Keller House, and campus tours of Mueller’s college alma mater, UNA.

“I have lots of family and friends coming out so it’s going to be special for me,” Mueller said. “I’m excited to show off my boys and the Myrtle Beach boys to the area I grew up, and show these boys where I’m from and grew up.”

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