By Jonathan Deal
Future football stars weren’t the only ones putting pen to paper Wednesday as several local soccer stars announced where they will play at the next level. Athens seniors Grace Morgan and Klaire Phillips received scholarships to play soccer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The Athens duo will play just down the road for UAH coach Jimmy Mitchell. This is Mitchell’s first class at UAH after taking over for Matt Watts, who now coaches the men’s team.
Morgan and Phillips are the first Athens players to play at the next level under head coach JB Hutchison who has taken his teams to the final four for the past six seasons.
The fact that Morgan and Phillips are the first Athens players to receive scholarships from all those teams makes it all the more impressive. The pair helped AHS get over the hump and reach the state finals for the first time in school history. Morgan was a big part of that, scoring three goals during the final four tournaments.
“I have no doubt that Grace will be successful,” said Athens head coach JB Hutchison. “She sets goals for herself. She always talks about the team first. She has team goals and she has personal goals that will make the team better.
“She told me she had even larger goals this year. They want to bring home a state championship. She’s a team captain that leads in practice every day. I know she’ll be successful at UAH and it’s always nice to have a teammate there with you.”
Phillips was equally important, anchoring the midfield while scoring 16 goals with eight assists. The 5-foot-10 inch midfielder said she is looking forward to the challenges at the next level.
“I really liked the campus,” said Philips about UAH. “They’ve been talking to us (Grace and Klaire) for about two years. They want me to play center back there.”
The transition should be a natural for Phillips, who plays defense for her club team, Huntsville Football Club.
But Morgan and Phillips have unfinished business before heading to college. Soccer season begins in less than a week and the seniors have one thing on their mind.
“Getting a blue map,” said Morgan about the AHSAA state championship trophy.