Shannon Curley signed her letter of intent to play soccer at the University of Rio Grande on Friday, January 17, 2014.  

Most high school athletes only dream of the chance to showcase their skills in front of collegiate coaches.

Then there are athletes like Shannon Curley who make sure collegiate coaches take notice and once the opportunity presents itself, they waste little time capitalizing.

Curley, according to Rio Grande coach Callum Morris, contacted the Red Storm and auditioned for a spot on the soccer team in the hopes of earning a full ride. She realized her dream Friday as the Clay senior signed her soccer scholarship.

Rio Grande was Curley’s first and only choice.

“I like Rio because it’s not to far from home and it’s kind of a smaller school,” Curley said. “My dad has refereed and officiated many woman’s and men’s games there and I always came along with him. So, I guess I kind of grew up with this want to play for Rio.”

After watching Curley perform, Morris knew what kind of player he was signing.

“Shannon brings a little bit different of an element than what we have at the moment at Rio,” Morris said. “In the past, we haven’t had as much bite in the team, which means we didn’t have enough aggression in there. With Shannon’s play and how she likes to be aggressive, I think she will be a really good fit for us.”

“She has a really good work ethic. With Shannon’s ability and her workman like effort, I think it’s going to be a really good fit.”

During her senior campaign with the Panthers, Curley led the team with 14 assists and was second with eight goals.

Curley would have led the team in goals but Clay features a co-ed soccer program because it is one of the smallest schools in the area. SOC player of the year Mason Pelphrey lead the Panthers in goals a season ago.

“Being a small school and having to play co-ed against all boy teams, she’s basically been not only a player but last year, as a junior, she was out for the entire year with a knee injury, so she was basically an assistant coach,” Clay coach Roger Compton said. “She’s always been there to help the younger kids, she’s been there to push them, she’s been there to help them, even with discipline sometimes. Basically, she’s a student of this game.”

Curley has overcome two major knee injuries during her high school career, her sophomore and junior seasons were lost because of torn ACLs, one in each knee.

“My sophomore and junior year, I blew out both of my knees,” Curley said. “I even thought for a while that I really shouldn’t play in college because of the injuries but then this past season, my family and my coaches really encouraged me and I regained my confidence. So, I hope other players realize that you can do it. I am going to play collegiate level soccer, I came back from two injuries and I only played two years.”

Compton describes Curley as a no nonsense, mentally tough player that will have no problems adjusting to life at Rio Grande.

For Curley, she contributes a lot of her success to her father.

“Sometimes my dad pushes my buttons but he’s doing it to help me and I realize that now,” Curley said. “He’s been the biggest motivator for me.”

Source:  Slone, Chris.  "Curley Signs with Rio Grande."  PortsmouthDailyTimes.com.  18 Sept. 2014.  27 Sept. 2014. <http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/news/sports/2976154/Panthers-Curley-signs-with-Rio-Grande>.

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