Athlete of the week: Sam Cottle was born to lead the LaGrange soccer team

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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Sam Cottle is a goal-scoring machine for the LaGrange Grangers. The senior forward scored with her left foot, her right foot, or her head seemingly at will.

Cottle leads the LaGrange girls soccer team with 22 goals in 13 games this season. This is not her first rodeo as she banged in 24 goals as a junior last season.

“I just take it one game at a time and just work my way through the season without looking too far in advance,” Cottle said. “

Cottle grew up on the soccer field and it shows. She has harnessed her abilities and talents to become one of the most decorated soccer players in the history of Troup County.

Cottle has added new dimensions to her game as a senior as she has been more involved with the buildup and playmaking aspects of the game. After contributing six assists in 20 games as a junior, Cottle has already blown past that number with 13 so far this season.

“I worked on my ability to finish, but also on my technical ability and how to pass and move,” she said. 

A commander and a leader are words that coach Jon Callahan used to talk about his senior forward coming into the season and she has more than lived up to the billing.

Cottle is one of the team’s captains for the second straight season and is a strong presence when she steps foot on any field. 

“There is a lot of young talent on this team and even more that are playing on the eighth-grade team now and I just make sure to tell them not to rush things because four years go by super fast,” Cottle said. “I just always wanted the team to be welcoming to any new girls.”

It has been an up-and-down season for the Grangers, who finished fourth in a tough region. Through it all Cottle has been a steady presence on the field.

“We should be doing better and we have lost games that we really should have won,” Cottle said. “You can’t dwell on the losses, you have to move on and be better next time out.”

The number of games left as a Granger is dwindling down for Cottle. The team will play home games against Bremen and East Coweta next week before traveling on the road in the opening round of the AAAA state playoffs the week after that. Nothing is guaranteed beyond those three games despite the team trying to improve on last year’s quarterfinal appearance.

“It’s so crazy to think about,” Cottle said. “My first game freshman year did not even feel that long ago.”

So far, that quarterfinal appearance last season has served as a highwater mark for Cottle during her time at LaGrange High and was quite possibly the best season the girls soccer team has ever had.

“Beating Perry (in the second round) was special because we lost to them in the first round my freshman year and it was heartbreaking,” Cottle said. “To beat them the way we did felt so good.”

LaGrange walloped Perry 6-1 on the road last season in dominant fashion.

In eight grade, Cottle got the chance to play in Callaway Stadium for the first time with the JV team. Her freshman year, she was an every-game starter at forward for the Grangers and it has been that way ever since.

It will be a strange sight for those in attendance next year when the dynamic duo of Cottle and fellow senior Carlee Roland are no longer on the field. The two have meant so much to each other and the program during the last 4+ years.

“I’ve been playing with Carlee Roland since I was little and she is truly my best friend,” Cottle said. “It is crazy to think that we are going to play two games at Callaway Stadium together and then the playoffs and then it’s over.”

Cottle has truly carved out her own athletic legacy in Troup County. Her father, Wade, was a standout football player at Troup High, but the younger Cottle has walked a different path.

That path will lead her to the University of North Georgia where she will be playing Division II soccer starting in the fall of this year.

“Last week I went and watched my new college play and it is definitely very different than how we play,” Cottle said. “I’m super excited to head up there and I’ve already been texting my future roommates.

“I know some of the girls on the team from club soccer… the coaches and the players were all super nice and welcoming and the coaches have been down to watch a lot of my games and come by and talk to me about how it went afterwards.

With her new adventure on the horizon, Cottle can’t help and be thankful for the journey she has enjoyed in the Granger blue, from a freshman with a twinkle in her eye as she looked up to her captains and mentors to a senior who has truly embraced what it means to put on the blue and white for LaGrange and strap the captain’s armband around her bicep.

“It feels so good,” Cottle said about putting on the LaGrange jersey. “It’s something I have wanted to do since I was little and it is crazy to think that it is about to end.

“The games aren’t even what I’m going to remember most, it’s the after game meals, it was the bus rides and just growing up with these girls and becoming a big family.”