Before she had even started high school, Shelby Sanders knew where she wanted to go to college.
Her dream came true Friday when the Franklin County High School senior signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at Morehead State University.
Sanders attended a soccer camp at Morehead, before starting high school, and that sold her on the school.
“After the first day I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” she said. “I didn’t really want to play any place else.”
Sanders was selected as the Most Valuable Player on The State Journal All-County Soccer Team last fall. She anchored the Lady Flyers’ defense, but she could also be a threat on offense.
It’s that versatility that FCHS coach Jon Sutphin said is Sanders’ greatest asset.
“She can play any position on the field,” he said. “She’s strong on the defensive side of the field, but her speed makes her an offensive weapon. Looking at set plays, she was one of our go-to girls on corner kicks. She can jump and she’s not afraid to use her head.
“The one place I never saw her play was goalie, and we even talked about that. She’s just an all-around player. She prefers defense, but she can do it all.”
Sanders finished last season with four goals and two assists.
She’s been playing soccer since she was 4 years old, and she played on boys U10 and U12 select teams.
She’s currently playing with Commonwealth Soccer Club, a select team out of Lexington.
Sanders was recruited by other schools, but Morehead showed the most interest.
“They came to a game about every year,” she said, “and they always told me they were looking forward to me being a senior.”
Morehead is coached by Warren Lipka, who coached at Kentucky from 1992-2008. He’s been at Morehead since 2009, and last year the Eagles went 10-11-1 overall and 7-3-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“I think Morehead is getting a phenomenal player,” Sutphin said, “and I know coach Lipka is excited about getting her there and what she brings to the team.
“We lose four seniors and each one was really important to us. Shelby can do so many things. We could play her on defense, and if we needed to score we could move her up. Her versatility will definitely be missed.”
Sanders is also a member of the FCHS softball team and will be playing for the Lady Flyers this spring.
“I’m very glad I’ll be able to do that,” she said. “We have a very good chance this year to make it far.”
Sanders plans to major in animal science and become a veterinarian.
“I’m very excited and very relieved,” she said about signing with Morehead. “These snow days really bother me. I just want to graduate and go on to the next level.”