Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”
Most coaches will tell you that persistency in an athlete is a correlation of success. Often the best athletes overcome great obstacles to better themselves and ultimately their respective teams.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that Wheelersburg senior Lyndlee Willis will be continuing her soccer career at Anderson University in Indiana. Willis signed with the Ravens on Friday afternoon in front of friends and family at Wheelersburg High School.
“It’s a great day for Lyndlee Willis,” Pirates head coach Todd Jarvis said. “She was committed to the game that she loves to play, and she was hoping to play beyond high school. She’s found a good fit in Anderson University, so congratulations to her for that.”
“She was dedicated to the game. She worked hard, and it’s great to see girls get an opportunity.”
Unlike most seniors who spend their last year of high school slacking off, Willis pushed herself to the limit and reaped the benefits of a rigorous athletic and academic schedule.
While she was enjoying success on the soccer field this past season with 17 goals and seven assists, she was also running cross country for Wheelersburg. Willis was a factor there as well, placing sixth in the SOC meet for her Pirates with a time of 23:33.
Her senior season saw a lot of accolades as well, as Willis was named to the first team all-SOC in cross country and soccer.
Now that the season is over and the signing is complete, Willis reflected on what was a productive senior season in several sports.
“It was hard,” Willis said. “I would either go to practice and then run, or run and go to practice. I was super tired all the time.”
“It definitely kept me in shape, so I didn’t feel like I was as tired during games. I’m midfield so I have to run a lot, and it helped.”
Willis enjoyed running cross country to help stay in shape, but Jarvis felt it was about more than that.
“That shows you who she is that she was willing to help support the cross-country program at Wheelersburg,” Jarvis said. “She’s a great student, and she’s a great kid.”
“She never brought any problems to the team and was solution oriented. She came to practice and worked hard, and was always attempting to make herself better. One of the things we talk about is if you make yourself better, you make those around you better as a team.”
Among a group of girls that brought ample enthusiasm to each match, Willis stood out with her excitement level she brought to each contest.
As the starters were introduced, Willis would exchange high-fives with her fellow starters. Each of her handshakes were unique, and the routine perfectly encapsulated Willis’ energetic attitude.
“It’s just my personality,” Willis said. “I’m pretty hyper all the time, so it just kind of goes on to the field.”
When Willis moved to Wheelersburg from Minford, though, it was a bit of an adjustment for her. Yet, it didn’t take long for her to leave her stamp on the program.
In fact, she felt right at home sooner than she had imagined.
“I went to Minford before, so coming in to this I was nervous coming to Wheelersburg,” Willis said. “It’s super awesome getting to influence younger girls to come play.”
“I love my team so much, it’s my favorite team that I played with. They’re just super awesome, and I’m going to miss that most definitely.”
As a vital cog of a team that finished 18-1-1 overall this season, Willis was something special in the eyes of her head coach.
“She had a spectacular senior year,” Jarvis said. “I always have expectations, I give them my expectations of them, and she exceeded those expectations.
“She provided leadership on and off the field as a good role model for younger players. She’s a good role model for the girls that are in the fifth and sixth grade right now that can see these things and [realize] there’s a place to go.”
In a year full of great games and lasting memories, one match stands out to Willis.
“My favorite game was when we won a district championship,” Willis said. “That was a good game, and it was exciting going in to that because we didn’t know what to expect. It was a close game when we played that team before, and then we went out and beat them by a lot so it was exciting.”
The game referenced by Willis was the district championship against North Adams, a 6-1 win for her Pirates in which she scored a goal and recorded an assist.
Willis hopes to make more great memories in college, where she plans to study chemistry and something in the medicine field. At Wheelersburg, she feels she has been given plenty of preparation athletically and academically for what’s to come.
“It definitely has,” Willis said when asked if Wheelersburg has help ready her for college. “It challenges me a lot in my classes, and so I think I’m prepared hopefully.”
It’s an exciting time for her, as college soccer wasn’t on the radar until a couple years ago.
“I didn’t really think about it until like sophomore year,” Willis said. “Then I was like maybe I do want to do that.”
A big influence in her career was playing club soccer, where she was encouraged to grow and develop her skills as a player.
“My club coach actually pushed me to go on to the next level, so it was really a big influence on me,” Willis said.
For Willis, she’ll be joining an Anderson Ravens squad that finished 10-4-3 last season. Those ten wins are the fourth most in the school’s history, and the four losses for the team were the lowest tally ever attained at Anderson.
Willis connected with the coaching staff, and from there it was an easy choice she says.
“I met the coach, and I really liked her a lot,” Willis said. “So I was like yeah, this is where I want to go.”
With the work ethic and drive that Willis is shown, it seems apparent she is destined to continue her growth as a soccer player in college.
“I think if she continues to work on her fitness and she continues to work on her physical strength, I think she can provide a real asset to Anderson,” Jarvis said. “I think she’ll do that, because she’s devoted to making herself better at this game and always has been.”