Red Lion forward Gabby Young said she heard from about 50 schools during her recruitment process.
Each school with serious interest, however, was an NCAA Division II or Division III college.
That is, until November, when Division I Longwood saw the senior forward play in a tournament and later offered her an athletic scholarship.
“My dream was always to play college soccer, and I always believed I had D-I potential,” said Young, who announced her oral commitment to Longwood on Twitter last Wednesday. “When Longwood reached out, it was a big sigh of relief, because I always had this vision of playing Division I. Longwood finding me was special. This has all been a dream come true.”
About Longwood: Longwood University, located in Farmville, Virginia, about an hour east of Richmond, competes in the Big South Conference alongside Winthrop, High Point and Radford. The Lancers finished third in the conference this season with a 6-2-2 record. They finished second in the conference tournament last season, coming one win away from advancing to the NCAA tournament.
Young said she was impressed with Longwood head coach Todd Dyer, who has coached the Lancers since the program was established in 1993.
“They have a really good soccer program,” Young said. “I loved the coach from the minute I spoke to him. He’s down to earth, and he’s a good guy. I connected with him, and he’s genuine. It seemed like a really good fit for me.”
Young will be a nursing major at Longwood with the hopes of being a nurse anesthetist in the future.
“It just came down to what school would be a home for me,” Young said. “They have a really good nursing program down there. The head of the nursing program said they’re good with working with student athletes. That was s another factor of why I decided to go there, because it’s a good fit academically.”
About Young: Young led the Lions this season to their first Division I girls’ soccer title since 2008.
“Being a Red Lion soccer player has really shaped who I am today,” Young said. “I played with a lot of the girls growing up, and we all formed a good bond on the field. It’s just a bond that has really helped develop me.”
Young scored 17 goals and assisted on nine others in her D-I Co-Player of the Year campaign. Her most remarkable feat came late in the season, when Young, sporting a face mask to protect a broken nose she suffered two days earlier, led the Lions to a title-deciding victory over Dallastown with two first-half goals.
“Seeing Gabby grow from a sophomore to now has been amazing,” said Red Lion head coach Meghan Roy in November when Young was honored by the Y-A League coaches. “In her senior season, she’s grown and developed as a player so much. It’s so nice to be able to see that in such a short amount of time. It’s really an honor to coach her.”
Young doubled her scoring output this season, and she said she’s thankful for Roy in trusting her to lead the Lions.
“I can’t thank coach Meghan enough for really helping showcase my abilities this season,” Young said. “She’s always been supportive of my dreams, and she was very excited to hear about Longwood.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.