Lady Panthers become Lady Apaches

Sarrah Geraci, Photo Editor

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After playing together for seven years, five Lufkin High School varsity soccer girls will continue to pass the ball to each other for two more years at Tyler Junior College.

The girls feel like it will be a much better college experience because they have each other on and off the field.

“I’m very excited to be able to keep playing with these girls. We’ve been playing together long enough to know when to leave each other alone.” jokes Senior Laci Richey.

Richey will be taking her basic classes and majoring in speech pathology while attending TJC. Afterwards, she plans on transferring to a D1 college to continue playing soccer.

“I expect my first year of college to be a lot more demanding. But having everyone there with me will make it much easier,” Richey said.

Senior Moriah “Yaya” Phillips feels like soccer is going to become a job, but she’s looking forward to it.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten a soccer scholarship I would’ve gone to another college. There, I would’ve studied to be a physical therapist,” Phillips said. “I hope to go to a D1 college after TJC but we’ll just see what happens.”

Last summer the girls scrimmaged TJC and that’s when head coach, Corey Rose, decided he wanted them.

According to Phillips, TJC “wins championships.” If they don’t come back with a championship ring, then it wasn’t a good year for them.

“This next year is going to be a big change.” said senior Shelby Smitherman. “I’m definitely going to miss my mom and my niece, but I’m looking forward to being on my own.”

Shelby Smitherman and Vanessa Luna also hope to attend a D1 college after TJC.

“It’s going to be hard transitioning from high school to college, especially with upper level soccer. While I’m at TJC I’m going to study to be a pediatrician and plan on playing D1 after Tyler,” Luna said.

The two things on goal keeper Savannah Radke’s mind are soccer and leaving Lufkin.

“I’m a little nervous but excited to be moving from high school. TJC is such a diverse school so I’m ready to not only be with my friends that I already know, but to meet people from all over the world,” Radke said.

Unlike her teammates, Radke doesn’t plan on playing at a D1 college after TJC.

“After Tyler, I plan on either going to LA Tech, which was my original plan before TJC happened, or Oklahoma State to be a vet,” Radke said. “When I have my own practice I want to get away from Lufkin, but stay in Texas.”

Radke says Tyler is much bigger than Lufkin, and there’s a lot more variety of everything, especially shopping.

“I’m not really nervous to leave home. I’m going to miss my church, family, and friends, but I’m ready to meet new people,” Radke said.

The girls don’t have any preferences as to whom they are rooming with, but they will be carpooling back to Lufkin quite often to visit family and friends.