Four Troup soccer players sign to play at the next level

Published 1:50 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Troup soccer program has three boys soccer players (Diego and Luis Merida – Mars Hill and Anthony Patrick – Brewton-Parker) and one girls soccer player (Haley Kitchens – Central Georgia) who have signed to play at the next level on Wednesday. That now makes five total soccer players from Troup’s class of ‘24 that have signed to play in college.

Soccer is a growing sport across the United States, especially in Troup County. Troup High had been slow to catch up to its neighboring schools until the last several years and these four players have been key to the turnaround in Troup High soccer.

“When I first took this job about six years ago, Troup soccer was broken. I’ll just call it that. But the girls and boys teams were broken and we were kind of the laughingstock,” said Eddie Lawson, former coach of the boys and girls soccer teams at Troup. “And in those six years, we were able to have great players who believed in us to trust this and they turned it around. Each of these young people that you see sitting up here today is responsible for the Troup soccer turnaround.”

The Merida brothers are about as Troup as they come. Diego and Luis are just two of four brothers who have greatly impacted Troup soccer. The two have been playing soccer together for about as long as they could walk and their journey will continue together at Mars Hill.

“We have always been on the same team since we first started playing when we were like five,” Diego said.

To play with your twin brother in high school is a special experience, but to get to do it in college is another beast entirely. 

“We have wanted to play in college since like middle school, but we never thought that the opportunity to play together in college would come,” Luis said. 

Diego was a stalwart at the back while Luis was one of the orchestrators of the offense. 

While the Merida brothers have been playing soccer practically their entire lives, Patrick finds the sport much later. The senior always had the pace and athleticism for soccer and quickly adapted to the sport when he came out for the team in high school.

“This really is a blessing and something I’ve been working towards the last few years,” Patrick said. “I’ve put in a lot of work to get better and get where I am now.”

Patrick quickly turned into one of the most reliable goal scorers for the Tigers. Now, he will get the chance to put the ball in the back of the net at the next level.

“I’m ready to compete at the next level and show them my worth,” Patrick said. 

While Kitchens was the only girls soccer player to sign on Wednesday, she was joined by Susannah Lynn in this recruiting class. Much like Patrick, Kitchens found soccer later in life. Softball was the sport for her, which she continued to play until her final season with Troup last fall, for the majority of her early life. Kitchens found a love for soccer as a sophomore and never looked back.

“When I first got to high school I didn’t think I would even be playing soccer and definitely signing to play in college,” Kitchens said. “I started to think about playing in college last year and coach (Stan) Brumbeloe really pushed my name out there.”

Kitchens has been one of the top goalkeepers in Region 4-4A the last several years, missing out on the goalkeeper of the region award by just a handful of votes the last two seasons. She was unsure of the position at first but became a steady presence between the posts for Troup.

“I loved soccer from my first day out, but I was unsure of playing goalkeeper at first,” Kitchens said with a chuckle. 

Little did Kitchens and Patrick know that when they started high school they would end up signing up to play in college. It is what hard work, determination and that good ole can-do attitude can do for somebody.

The Troup soccer program had to bid farewell to these four, but the impact these four made will be felt long after they graduate next week.