Sam Cottle signs to play soccer at UNG

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

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There were cheers, laughter and more than a few tears in the LaGrange High team room on Wednesday evening as senior soccer player Sam Cottle signed to play at the next level. Cottle had a hard time fighting back tears, overcome with the feeling of thankfulness when she announced her next destination as The University of North Georgia.

“I feel good, but it’s stressful and just a lot of emotions at the same time,” she said. “I’ve dreamed of this since I was a little girl and saw an Auburn soccer game and I knew I wanted to be like them.”

North Georgia called her name and she responded.

“All the girls were so nice and welcoming when I visited. The field was great and it just felt like a place I could call home,” Cottle said.

The senior captain is calm under pressure and in command on the field, but even she was flustered by how much love and support she got on Wednesday. Her first youth soccer coach, Tyler Eady, was on hand as well as many of her other coaches and friends all the way up to her current teammates and coaches.

“Sam is the most consistent kid we have in the program,” said Jon Callahan, the current LaGrange girls soccer coach. “She is always there to train. She is always there to do extra work and always ready to give everything she has.”

Cottle has already put together one of the most distinguished careers in program history, but she is not done yet. The team kicked off the regular season on Tuesday with 16 more regular season games on the docket. 

“We made it to the Elite Eight last year, so I want to make it even further this year,” she said. “That’s everybody on the team’s goal.”

Unsurprisingly, Cottle has picked up right where she left off. She scored a hat-trick in LaGrange’s scrimmage last Friday before scoring two more in the season opener against Northside on Tuesday. This is a season after she tallied 24 goals and six assists.

Cottle has never focused on the goals and assists and looks more at the wins and losses. 

Winning and losing in Granger blue and white has meant the world to Cottle the last four years, struggling to put into words how much it truly means to her.

“I feel thankful that I’ve been allowed to do it,” Cottle said. “I feel so thankful every time I put that uniform with the LG on.”

Cottle has grown leaps and bounds on the soccer field. She is now a field general, a captain and in a lot of ways, a coach on the field.

While some sports have a wealth of resources when it comes to collegiate recruiting, soccer is not afforded such a luxury. The recruitment process can be arduous as Cottle witnessed first hand.

“It’s stressful for a soccer player,” Cottle said. “You can’t just have them come to your games. You have to go to camps, send out letters and find the time to visit when you’re not in school.”

LaGrange is home for Cottle, but only for a little while longer. She is in her final few months at LaGrange High, and it is a bittersweet feeling.

“It feels like it went by like that *snaps her fingers*,” Cottle said. “Playing here is a feeling like nothing else.”