December 8, 2018 7:07:16 PM
CALEDONIA -- Shelbi Box wears a captain's band on her left arm with pride.
For the last two seasons, Box has been the "loud" player in the middle of the Caledonia High School girls soccer team. Box admits it's easy to hear her on the field because she has learned to dislike quiet, which is a great trait to have when you're organizing and keeping track and all of your teammates.
"It's an honor," Box said of being a team captain. "If you're a captain, everybody thinks you're the best, but that is not it at all. I love rooting on my girls. I love pushing them when they don't believe in themselves.
"Being a soccer player is great and everything, but the leadership role that comes with it, I push them, I motivate them. I just want the best for them."
Those leadership qualities have helped make Box a mainstay in the Caledonia High lineup ever since she was a freshman. Now a senior, Box has used those intangibles to push her a step closer to her dream.
On Friday, Box celebrated her chance to play soccer in college at a signing ceremony to announce her decision to attend Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia.
The dream has been years in the making, as evidenced by the array of medals Box earned through years of playing youth and travel soccer. Those awards were spread out on the table in front of her National Letter of Intent. Trophies and awards from other soccer accomplishments also adorned the table.
There also was a picture of box in her Caledonia High uniform replete with her captain's arm band. Box said she has played with her teammates for so long that she knows when something is up, which makes it easier to help them stay focused or to motivate them. She said her years of experience have helped her grow into an effective captain.
"I am very vocal," Box said. "I cannot stand when the field is quiet, so I am all of the time hollering, all of the time trying to get them pepped up, like hype and stuff. I am very vocal, which I think helps me be a better leader than most girls."
Box said she clicked with Northwest Mississippi C.C. coach Levi Nunnally, who also played center back. She said she is excited about having a coach who played her position.
Northwest Mississippi C.C. finished 4-10-1 and 2-6 in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) this past season.
Box said going to Northwest Mississippi C.C. will suit her better academically,
This is the second year Louis Alexander has coached Box at Caledonia High. She has played center back both seasons.
"She kind of anchors it down for us," Alexander said. "Naturally, that is where she fits. She is defensive minded and has a high soccer IQ, so she is definitely somebody you want to have back there."
Alexander said it has been fun to watch mature as a player and as a leader. He said she has been a team captain for the last two seasons. Last season, Box was the team MVP, which isn't usually the case for a center back. Alexander said Box's leadership is about 51 percent of the reason why she earned that honor. The other 49 percent, Alexander said, comes from Box's skills. He said he has worked with Box to become an even more effective communicator.
"She is definitely a loud player," Alexander said. "She is a physical player. The main thing you want out of any player whether you're offense, defense, or in the midfield is to be a competitor. She loves to compete. When it is a tight game or a dogfight, I like for players to have a little salt, and she has got that."
Box said she started playing soccer when she was little, which triggered her dream to play soccer in college. She admitted she thought she was getting "burned out" with soccer, but she credited Alexander for introducing a new atmosphere and new techniques and skills that made her love the sport again.
On Friday, a journey that started at center mid and ended at center back came full circle and helped her realize a goal years in the making.
"I feel like once I got on the back line is when I became more vocal," Box said. "If I would not have learned and built upon being very vocal, I don't think I would have made it to the collegiate level."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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