February 1, 2013 12:05:26 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Itawamba Community College women's soccer team will have a double dose of Hern in 2013.
On Thursday, New Hope High School senior forward Reagan Hern signed a scholarship to play with her sister, Sarah, at ICC later this year.
Hern, who moved from defender to forward this season, said having her sister on the team and knowing several of the players on the team and others who will join the Lady Indians, plus the fact that Fulton is a little more than an hour away from home, made her final decision a little easier.
Hern played defense from the eighth grade until the 10th grade, when she played a little bit as a forward. She returned to defense as a junior only to emerge as a scoring threat this season. With her size and her speed, Hern was one of the most dangerous players in the area.
"Coach Will (Taylor) and coach Nagy really focused on me being an attacker," Hern said. "I like being a forward. I love being able to score. I think my speed really helps me when it comes to attacking and playing forward. I am glad I was able to get used to the new position, and I hope I will stay a forward when I go to ICC."
ICC coach Mike Sullivan, who coaches the men's and women's programs at the school, doesn't know where Hern will play. He said he was interested in Hern when he saw her last season as a defender. He said her showing this season as an attacking player will give him more possibilities. His hope is Hern and the other signees he has for 2013 will help the Lady Indians improve on their scoring output of 25 goals that resulted in a 7-8-1 finish and a first-round loss to Jones County Junior College in the first round of the MACJC State tournament/.
"We love what she is going to bring," Sullivan said. "She is a very good soccer player. She is fast, she is physical. She is much like her sister. I think both of them will feed off each other, and both of them will play even better because I know the relationship with them is very close."
Sullivan also has to be pleased with the leadership qualities Hern is going to bring to his program. New Hope High coach Mary Nagy said it will be difficult to replace the intangibles Hern brought to this season's team. She said Hern did such a good job relating to the younger players and being an example for them in every facet of the game. She is confident Hern's approach to the game will help her transition to the college game.
Hern was third on the team in goals (10) and fourth in assists (six) this season. She played an integral role in helping the Lady Trojans advance to the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State tournament. Ridgeland eliminated New Hope from the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.
"I think it is rare when a player and a person of her caliber comes along," Nagy said. "As a 10th-grader, she earned respect immediately from her peers. It's not often you see a sophomore chosen captain. Early on, they recognized what kind of player and person she is.
"With a 10th-grader who served as a captain on a team with five seniors, and not all seniors served as representatives of their team, I think that is a high honor."
Nagy said the players trusted Hern and could talk to her about anything. She hopes returning players will emerge to pick up the slack for the leadership void Hern, the team's only senior, will leave behind with her graduation. She and Hern believe there are plenty of players who have the potential to do that, but Hern said it is bittersweet that she won't be on hand to help push the program past Ridgeland into a North State title match.
But Nagy said Hern's example will be motivator for the Lady Trojans next season.
"I have had a lot of great captains in the past, her own sister included, but none has give to the program blood, sweat, and tears and herself," Nagy said. "She has totally given herself. She was the glue that held them all together."
Hern feels she learned her leadership qualities from her coaches and teammates she played with when she was younger. She said she used the honor of being named captain as a sophomore as a responsibility she had to live up to. This season, she said she liked being the "Mother Hen" of the team, or someone who could talk to players or give advice. She hopes some of the things she talked to her teammates about will trickle down and leave a lasting impression.
"Having an opportunity to be captain for three out of the five years on the team, I think that definitely left a mark," Hern said. "I hope my leadership and how I played left a mark. I put a lot of effort into the five years I was out there. That has been my world for five years, so I hope they will remember that.
"I am excited about going to Fulton and all of the girls. One of the challenges will be getting used to a new team because the New Hope teams were so close. Going up to Fulton and already kind of knowing some of the girls will be fun. It will be an adjustment and a challenge, but I am really looking forward to it."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.