Long County Lady Tide soccer player Nakia Hunter penned her name Friday afternoon to play soccer at the college level for Middle Georgia State. The signing ceremony took place in the school’s cafeteria.
New Lady Tide soccer coach Sabrina Caines introduced Hunter, saying it was a proud moment for the hard working senior and the school’s soccer program.
Hunter thanked everyone and fought back tears as she thanked her longtime friend and travel teammate Megan Higgason.
MGSU Lady Knight soccer coach Vinny Gill said he first met Hunter during a summer soccer camp attended by several local soccer players under Hinesville Gator coach and First Presbyterian Christian Academy soccer coach Tom Sukaratana.
“It was in the summer and we had about 30 kids, and we were doing this warmup one day,” Gill said, explaining what impressed him the most about Hunter. “When we were done, she asked me if we could do a little bit more … and then she played, and I like the way she played. … And she is one of those players who can play multiple positions.”
Hunter said she likes defense but is open to playing anywhere the coach feels would be the best fit for the team.
“I am just looking forward to playing on the field,” she said.
“She could play sweeper, stopper, right back, left back, defensive midfield and probably be a target player up front if needed,” Gill noted. “She is a good athlete.”
Sukaratana said she played with this team for about six or seven years.
“She started as a goalkeeper, and that is why she understands the defense well,” he said. “But she is a well-rounded player and will be an asset for Middle Georgia next year.”
“This is one of the most important days of our lives. It is what she’s worked for almost her whole life,” Hunter’s father, Earnest Torres, said. “I am glad she has found something she has her niche in, and she kept with it and kept working at it.”
Torres said his daughter’s sports talent comes from her mom.
“Her mom played basketball, soccer, softball and was a cheerleader. She did all that stuff, and she was the driving force. … She took her to every practice, whether it was two hours or three hours away, and about three days a week,” he said. “She was the one that traveled and took her to all of the Olympic development programs and to South Carolina to play on the national teams there.”
Hunter said she plans to study accounting and thinks the Middle Georgia campus is just the right size.
“When I visited, all the girls were nice and welcoming. … It feels like home here in Ludowici,” she said.
Her mother, Kristal Torres, said watching her daughter sign the scholarship made all the long weekends, trips and years of practice worthwhile.
“It’s amazing … for her to get here finally,” Torres said. “She has worked so hard throughout the years. She started playing soccer when was 7, was on a travel team by the time she was 10, and it is just an amazing experience for her to be able to sign and get this far.”