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Athens’ Young signs soccer LOI to attend Navarro

By JOE ELERSON / Athens Daily Review  —

Athens senior Raygan Young capped off a strong senior campaign with a college signing Wednesday at the high school.

Young signed a letter of intent to play soccer down Highway 31 at Navarro College in Corsicana.

“This is a great day for her, her parents and Athens Lady Hornets everywhere,” Athens athletic director Paul Essary said. “I want you to know that not many high school students get to go on and play college athletics. This is a special honor and it is because of your hard work and dedication. I know I have seen some of that myself. I have really enjoyed that this year and it was a great year for the Lady Hornets soccer team.”

Raygan Young

Athens’ Raygan Young signs with Navarro. With her are parents Rick Green and Jennifer Young and Raygan’s sister, Rachel. Standing are AHS coach Mark Hall and AD Paul Essary. (Joe Elerson photo)

She said staying close to home played a role in making her college choice.

“They are close to my home and I don’t want to be far from family,” Young said. “They are very affordable and I like their diverse community. They are very welcoming and it will be a lot of fun. I had acceptances but they offered me a scholarship so I went with them.”

Young plans to study Pre-Veterinary Medicine during her time at Navarro College.

Athens soccer coach Mark Hall said Young has been a pleasure to coach for the past three seasons.

“As a coach of this team for three years, Raygan has done a magnificent job being a leader on this team,” Hall said. “She has a grade point average of 3.872 and is a scholar at this school. She was a senior captain, the district Utility Player of the Year and an all-state player. She is a four year varsity player and three year starter. She is a great player and will be a great asset to Navarro Junior College.”

The Navarro Bulldogs soccer program has won eight Region XIV championships, seven district championships, had seven National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament appearances, two national tournament semifinal appearance and one national runner-up finish in 2013.

Young said with a resume like this, the opportunity to play for the Navarro Lady Bulldogs could not be passed up.

She said after having experience playing on the front line and back line in Athens, Navarro coach Alicia Wilson has not picked a position for her to play at this point.

“They have not given me anything specific, but they did say that I would be very useful and a good asset to the team,” Young said. “I have not been given a position yet. I know instead of seeing the team every day, I will be seeing them every night as well. I will be going to school with them and basically be living with them. It will be a lot more physical and competitive but I am ready for it.”

She said one of the toughest parts of the signing is not getting to play with her sister Rachel next year.

The next time the two players will compete on the field will be in the annual alumni soccer match held prior to the start of the regular season at Bruce Field.

“I will miss my sister. She is proud of me. She  will miss me and miss playing on the field with me,” Young said. “I won’t say that she is not going to like it, but she will want to go back in time to play with me again. We are looking forward to next year at the alumni game when we get to play against each other.”

She said another person who is she will miss next season is Hall, who has developed her to become the all-state player she because during the state title run.

“Coach Hall has been like a father figure to me more than just a coach,” Young said. “He has pushed me to be my best and made me who I am as an athlete. He has gotten scouts to look at me whenever I couldn’t do it. He has been there whenever I couldn’t do anything to help me and push me back up.”

In her senior year, she was fifth on the team in goals with seven and fourth on the team in assists with seven.

She was named to the Academic all-state team and the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches all-state team.

“It meant that I got noticed and I did what I needed to do to play and fulfill my position on the team,” Young said. “I was talking about it with Kyra Robison and she was happy that I got it to. We were excited for each other. It is something that we both didn’t expect it but we really enjoyed it and were excited to see it.”

She said now that she knows her final recognition will come at the sports banquet on May 25 and graduation scheduled for June 2, she is getting prepared for college life.

“I know I have to step it up and move on to the next chapter of my life,” Young said. “It will be better with bigger things and hopefully I can achieve them.”