Rio Grande Head Women’s Soccer Coach Tony Daniels says senior Pirate Morgan Willoughby, daughter of Michelle and Eugene Willoughby, of Wheelersburg, could start for him right now.
Willoughby signed her letter of intent to play soccer for Rio Grande University Thursday afternoon, an honor accomplished after playing soccer for nine years.
Willoughby said she first started playing soccer in the third grade just as something to do to pass time. Quickly, however, she fell in love with the sport and had bonded with her coaches, who later became strong motivators in her life.
“I really liked the sport, and I loved the coaches coaching me,” the young athlete stated.
Willoughby said that her coaches have pretty much been with her since she first started playing.
“They’re great coaches. They are very helpful. They work really well with everyone on the team, and they make everyone feel equal,” Willoughby stated. “I have a high respect for them.”
On the field, Willoughby has worked hard for her coaches. Mostly, she has played striker, but says she is a very versatile offensive player.
Wheelersburg Head Soccer Coach Todd Jarvis explained that Willoughby is not only versatile but is a hardworking, dedicated and knowledgeable player.
“She’s a big part of our program from a scoring and leadership perspective,” Jarvis explained.
Rio Grande has certainly seen this from Willoughby as well.
“She’s good,” stated Daniels as he explained that he believes she could hit the field for him right now. He went on to say that Willoughby is both fast and aggressive.
When Willoughby first started looking at colleges, she was considering Shawnee State University as well as Rio Grande. Then, after a visit to Rio Grande’s campus, Willoughby knew her decision had been made.
“I just fell in love with it,” she commented.
While visiting the campus, Willoughby met with the other girls on the soccer team, had an opportunity to see the campus and visit the athletic department. The small setting made Willoughby feel comfortable and like her transition would be easier than if she were attending a larger college. Then, she met with the Daniels, which closed the deal for her.
“I just felt like I belonged there,” Willoughby explained.
Danuels felt the same way. He recently took over the position of head coach and is eager to help the team reach its potential. Willoughby is part of that plan.
“She has what it takes to help me get the team where it needs to be,” he confirmed.
At Rio Grand, Willoughby plans to study nursing so that she can go on to fulfill her need to help people with a hope to work with children.
Her dedication to education is also a strong factor in Willoughby being chosen by Daniels.
“She’s a good student and is committed to both her academics and athletics,” said the coach. “She wants to win.”
Though her high school hates to Willoughby go, he is happy for her future.
“She’s a great kid. She’s a great student,” Jarvis said. “I’m excited for her. She loves to play the game. I know the coaching staff at Rio Grande is very excited to have her.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1924.