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She didn’t realize it at the time, but Shiann Washington made history Wednesday afternoon when the John Hardin senior signed a national letter of intent to play women’s soccer on the NCAA Division-I level for Morehead State University.
Although she only played one season for John Hardin – she started as a freshman and sophomore at North Hardin and sat out her junior season due to KHSAA transfer requirements – Washington became the first D-I signee in the Lady Bulldogs’ 12-season history.
“I didn’t know that until now, but I’ve worked really hard for it,” Washington said following her ceremony. “So it feels really good.”
Washington went to a prospect camp at Morehead State in June prior to the start last season. Each prospect camp participant was given an evaluation form and Washington said hers included a long letter from Morehead State coaches which included, “We’ll keep in touch.”
The Lady Bulldogs went 11-7-1 in Washington’s lone season, advancing to the 17th District Tournament semifinals. Washington was named to the All-Tournament Team, The News-Enterprise All-Area Team and helped anchor a defense which kept 13 teams from scoring multiple goals in a 15-game stretch.
She was an All-Area honoree in all three seasons, earning Sophomore of the Year in 2010.
“I didn’t get to coach her for very long, but I think I have a unique perspective having gotten to play against her and play with her,” said John Hardin coach Brittany Carter. “There’s a tenacity that she brings. She has a grit and she never gives up.”
With the exception of goalkeeper, there were very few positions Washington didn’t play for North Hardin or John Hardin. But she routinely appeared on the back line, where she was seen as a smart, savvy, athletic lockdown defender.
“She’s an excellent defender who can easily be moved around the field,” Carter said. “She’s definitely got the total package and I think Morehead’s getting a steal.”
Having played club, high school and collegiately herself, Carter knows what it takes to excel on those levels. She said Washington has the opportunity to make a smooth transition.
“She’s got a couple of things going for her,” Carter said. “She’s fast, which is something that you need at all levels. She has a knowledge of the game that goes beyond just the basics. And on top of that, just her body build. She’s strong, she’s athletic and she’s not going to get pushed around by girls at the other D-I schools she’s going to be playing with.”
Following the season, Washington went back to Morehead State in late October for an official visit. After meeting with some players, touring the facilities and talking with the coaching staff, Washington was offered a spot in the program.
“It was really hard to say no to the coach’s face,” said Washington, who was also recruited by two other D-I schools (Murray State, Tennessee-Martin) and one D-II school (Bellarmine).
Washington also runs track for John Hardin, but said she didn’t know if she would have an opportunity to do the same in college.
“I don’t really know because I hadn’t thought about it,” she said. “I haven’t mentioned it (to Morehead State), but I probably should.”
At Morehead State, Washington will be reunited with former Mockingbird Valley Soccer Club teammate and area rival Samantha Matherly, who just finished her freshman season with the Lady Eagles.
“When I went on my official visit, I talked to her honestly and she told me she really liked it,” Washington said. “So that kind of helped my decision.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.