With family, coaches and friends looking on, Mary Kathryn Whitney signed a letter of intent to play soccer for Georgia Military College in the fall.
She is the third Lady Highlander to sign to play college soccer this year, and the second for GMC.
As a little girl, Whitney said she made a big decision. One day while at a restaurant, she saw a girls soccer team bonding over a meal. At the time Whitney played soccer at the LCRD.
As the team members left, Whitney said she was impressed with their camaraderie. She told her mother, Lacey Whitney, "Mama, I want to do that!"
In fourth grade Whitney joined the Hinesville Soccer Association and has played for Hinesville Soccer and other area clubs since.
A multisport athlete, Whitney has played volleyball, basketball and soccer for FPCA.
Her coaches said Whitney has the dedication and talent to play college ball.
FPCA soccer coach Tom Sukaratana said he was proud of Whitney.
"I have coached Mary since she was small," he said. "I am happy she is going on to play at Georgia Military College. It is a good fit for her."
GMC assistant coach Kate Kraus agreed.
"Whitney will fit in well at GMC," Kraus said. "She is coming from a very close knit atmosphere at FPCA. We have a similar atmosphere at GMC."
Kraus said she will have two Lady Highlanders on her squad. Cecilia Graham signed last month.
Whitney’s father, Rob Whitney, said, "Mary has worked for this for years. She gave up her weekends and free time for games and tournaments. I am proud of her and happy she has reached her goal."
Lacey Whitney recalled her daughter’s early years in soccer and the friends and bonds that developed. She spoke of her appreciation for Sukaratana and the life lessons he taught her.
"Mary Kathryn is an example of the good that comes out of FPCA," Lacey Whitney said. "From her coaches and her teachers a foundation has been laid that will carry her throughout life. I thank her school coaches and her club coaches for helping her to this point."
The athlete herself said she believes she’ll have a smooth transition into GMC. She said she enjoyed her campus tour and was impressed with the athletic facilities and grounds.
"I like the coaches and I feel they can assist me in the next level," Whitney said. "While I was visiting I met some of the players and they were friendly and welcoming. Also, I am happy to continue playing with one of my closest friends and teammate, Cecilia."
Whitney expressed appreciation for her coaches and her teachers.
"It will be difficult leaving FPCA," she said. "I have been here my whole life. I thank everyone at FPCA and my club coaches who helped me and cared for me all of these years. I hope to make everyone proud."
She said she plans to major in education and possibly work in administration.