Cottle and Roland share a bond that goes well beyond athletics

Published 3:52 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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Sam Cottle and Carlee Roland have known each other since they were in diapers. The two LaGrange High seniors have been attached at the hip for well over a decade now. Whether it is in the stands of a football game, playing flag football or teaming up to play their beloved soccer, where there is one, the other is not too far away.

“We were in diapers when we first met each other and we’ve practically been at each other’s house every weekend since,” Roland said.

Cottle hit a growth spurt early in her high school career and the brunette-haired forward is a towering presence on the soccer field but is a kind, gentle soul away from the game. Roland with her blonde hair shimmering under the sun, might not offer as intimidating a presence, but try telling that to all her football teammates over the years. Yes, Roland spent some of her middle school and early high school career on the football team.

“In middle school, we were playing kickball every single day in the gym and I kept kicking the ball off the back wall so coach (Marcus) Blandinburg told me the team needed a kicker and took me down to the football field and I made every single one and next thing you know I was a football player,” Roland said.

Cottle “loved seeing her play and it was so funny seeing her out there with all the guys.”

The two are now helping the LaGrange girls soccer team reach new heights. On Thursday, Cottle scored a hat trick and Roland provided two assists to send the team to back-to-back Elite Eights for the first time in program history.

Unfortunately, this means the end is nigh for the dynamic duo’s time on the soccer field together. At most, they have three games left together and do not plan to take one for granted.

While their time as teammates is winding down, their time on the soccer field is not. Cottle will be playing at the University of North Georgia while Roland will be staying home to play at LaGrange College.

“She was literally the first person that I texted when I got the offer from UNG,” Cottle said.

The two have been playing soccer together since Cottle sported a bob and Roland was just as tall as Cottle in their parks and rec days. One year, the two played for the same team coached by their mothers.

“They had no idea what they were doing, so they brought some of the high school boys players up here to help them,” Cottle said as the two shared a hearty laugh.

The two quickly formed a bond that went beyond soccer. In fact, the two decided to translate their athletic prowess and connection from the soccer field to the gridiron. Unsurprisingly, the duo shared just as strong of a connection on the flag football team as they did on the soccer field.

“When I found out about (flag football) I came up to her and started begging her to play even though she had her doubts about playing football,” Roland said. 

Cottle was highly invested in playing club soccer and was unsure about joining flag football at first.

“Carlee told me too bad and signed me up anyways,” Cottle said, laughing.

Cottle often gets more of the plaudits as she scores the majority of the goals for the team, but Roland’s presence at the back is one of the key reasons for the team’s stability. When she got injured against Whitewater, the Granges surrendered a two-goal advantage and ended up losing the game.

It is not just Roland’s talent, but her leadership that is so valuable in the back. In fact, both of the duo offer the type of leadership that any team would be lucky to have.

“We grew up with a lot of these girls and we play club soccer with some of them, so it’s been easy to help lead them,” Roland said. “I wouldn’t want to be captains with anybody else.”

The two’s friendship has been practically all sunshine and roses. The two do not butt heads, lock horns or get frustrated with each other. With graduation looming, the two seniors will now be walking the halls of LaGrange High together for much longer, but the friendship and bond between them will last a lifetime.

“It’s sad that we won’t be playing together anymore, but we will still be friends,” Roland said. “Our friendship doesn’t revolve around soccer, it’s just a part of it.”