By Mark Carpenter –
It has at times been a struggle for the West Union Lady Dragons soccer program but the 2017 season was one of their best in recent years and as a result one of their graduates will be taking her game to the next level.
In a recent ceremony held at West Union High School, 2018 graduate Caitlyn Cooper signed her letter of intent to continue her soccer career at the next level, signing to become a member of the Southern State program this coming fall.
“I’ve already played soccer for 10 years so why not add another one,” said Cooper. “It’s my favorite sport and I really enjoy the challenges. I have been taking post-secondary classes at Southern State for the past two years and through another SSCC soccer player that I had class with, Coach Swart let me know he was interested in me as a potential player.”
“I found out about tryouts and I went and had a pretty good connection with the coach. It was an open tryout because the program is still low in numbers but I have played goalkeeper for years.”
The task of rebuilding the Lady Dragons’ soccer program has fallen to Kevin Hunter, who has coached the squad for the past two seasons and seen the team make marked improvements, and now sees one of his own move to the next level.
“I grew up with both of Caitlyn’s parents and have known her for a long time and had the opportunity to start coaching her in junior high,” said Coach Hunter. “Her Mom helped coach and we didn’t have enough kids so we went to Peebles and played with Gus Denzik and I saw then that Caitlyn was really serious about soccer. She didn’t really care what color jersey she was wearing and we had a really good time playing in Peebles. From there, Joe Kramer coached her as a freshman and sophomore in high school and then I took over.”
“She has always played primarily as a keeper and has been very aggressive and I think she has matured into a really nice young lady and nice soccer player. She told me after our last game that she didn’t want her career to end so now she will get to play at the next level and hopefully that keeps her focused on her schoolwork and lets her continue to be successful in life. For me, this is all about developing someone who will be a good citizen in life and I think Caitlyn has certainly gotten to that point and I am really proud of her.”
The SSCC soccer programs are still in a state of flux with players coming in and out and rosters and schedules changing, but head coach Tim Swart is hoping that the signing of local players such as Cooper provides some stability to his program.
“I watched Caitlyn at one of their matches and talked to some players that had played against her,” said SSCC head coach Tim Swart. “Everyone said that she would be a great addition to our team, she’s capable of playing goalkeeper and playing the field which is always a plus and she has many of the leadership qualities that we are looking for in our program. We’re honestly trying to get our soccer programs established and Caitlyn can be a big part of that.”
“Goalkeeper is one of the positions that we want to build around and that was one of the reasons we looked at Caitlyn.”
The SSCC Patriots are members of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
While at SSCC, Cooper plans to study for three years and then transferring to a larger school with the ultimate goal of becoming a Livestock Veterinarian and then maybe one day “inherit my family’s farm and take care of the animals”.