THS soccer player first-ever to earn scholarship
After its first year of existence, the Tonganoxie girls soccer team already has a scholarship-bound college player.
Laura Shuster became the first Tonganoxie girls soccer player to earn an athletic scholarship. The 2007 graduate will play soccer for Barton County Community College next year.
"It hasn't really hit me yet, but it's exciting," Shuster said. "I definitely won't be the last. There are so many girls with such amazing talent. They will show colleges what they have, too."
Shuster played midfield for the Chieftains, which went 6-9 last season. Tonganoxie won its first-ever playoff game when it defeated Ottawa, 3-2, in the first round of the Class 5-1A playoffs.
Barton County finished 5-13-1 last fall.
Shuster considered attending Johnson County Community College, but she wouldn't have had the opportunity to play soccer.
"I wanted to play in college," Shuster said. "It's four hours away from here, but my parents are excited for me. Of course, they're a little worried that I'm going away, but the most important thing is that they're supportive."
Shuster visited the campus in Great Bend June 4 and officially signed with the Cougars June 8.
Tryouts with first-year Barton coach Bryan Sailer were pressure-packed.
"It was just coach and me," Shuster said. "I was telling myself, 'Don't mess up -- concentrate. It's just you and him.'"
Sailer had Shuster partake in shots on goal drills, agility and footwork drills with cones and sprinting drills.
"They have an indoor track and he had me sprint one lap around," Shuster said. "After he stopped the stopwatch, he was like, 'Wow, that was really good.' I think I ran fast because I was so nervous."
After participating in the drills, Sailer told Shuster he had a spot for her on the team. Shuster will likely keep her midfield position at Barton.
"I think she has a drive that she wants to get better and be perfect at everything she does," Tonganoxie soccer coach Ken Lott said. "She just seemed to be a happy-go-lucky kind of person who you get along with really easily. Then there's the competitive side of her that you don't really see until she gets on the field."
An example of Shuster's competitiveness occurred last April when Tonganoxie played at Gardner-Edgerton.
Shuster collided with a Gardner-Edgerton player on a sequence that left her opponent on the ground. Shuster said she didn't mean for her opponent to land on the grass. The fall was a result of two players aggressively going after the ball, she said.
"She got up and came after me," Shuster said. "She was trash-talking the whole game. I kept my cool. I'm glad I did because I didn't want to get carded. 'She didn't push me, but she got in my face. Lott was on the sidelines going, 'Calm down, just calm down.' I'm definitely a competitive player."
After Barton, Shuster said she wanted to attend nursing school. She's already a certified nurse's aide. Shuster's considering the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo., as a possible destination for nursing school.