JACKSON County soccer standout Katie Phillips is headed to West Georgia, and the prolific Lady Panther scorer is eager to test her game at the collegiate level.
Phillips signed Friday with the Lady Wolves in a ceremony held at the Jackson County Comprehensive High School media center.
“I’m just excited and ready for the next step,” Phillips said. “The closer it gets, the more excited I get for going and playing at the next level. I feel ready.”
The Lady Panther forward has enjoyed a memorable career at Jackson County, one that includes two trips to the state playoffs and recently surpassing the 100-goal mark.
She also overcame a serious knee injury, which she sustained last May in the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs. After having surgery, Phillips recovered in just seven months. With a scholarship offer from West Georgia already in hand at the time of her rehab, Phillips said she was extra focused on getting back to the playing field.
“It just made me more determined,” Phillips said. “Because I had the offer before, that was my focus. I just needed to make sure that I was back and ready to go for college soccer.”
Jackson County coach Joe Ridgway, addressing the gathering at Phillips’ signing ceremony Friday, said Phillips was the consummate team player.
“What I like about Katie is that she always tries to put her team first,” he said. “She’s the first to say that all the time, where ‘I don’t want to take the credit here. It’s about the team’ … She is very adamant about saying, ‘I didn’t score these goals. My team scored these goals.’”
At West Georgia, Phillips will compete in the Gulf South Conference of Division II. The Lady Wolves are coached by Chris Davidovicz.
“He’s just very competitive,” Phillips said. “I’m just ready to go and be surrounded by people who are all going for the same goal and just competitive and ready to win and dominate in every single part.”
Phillips noted another aspect that drew her to West Georgia during the recruiting process: the facilities.
“All the weight rooms, and everything like that and the field, it’s just really nice,” Phillips said. “It’s all new stuff.”
Phillip said she feels ready for the next level of soccer given the amount of preparation that she’s had between club soccer, high school soccer and even participation in other sports.
“Definitely with all the practice with coach (Jeff) Parker and coach (Joe) Ridgway and everything from even basketball practice, every single day I get better at something,” she said.
Philips added that none of this would have been possible without her fellow players and coaches.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates — basketball and soccer — and coaches like club coach Parker and coach Ridgway and (JCCHS girls’ basketball coach Julie) McCutcheon and just everybody.”
While college soccer is on the horizon, Phillips and her teammates have much left to accomplish this year. Jackson County wants to win the Region 8-AAA championship this year and earn the coveted no. 1 seed out of the region for the state playoffs.
“We just plan on finishing those (region games) out and being region champions again,” Phillips said.